*Check out pt. 1 before diving into the conclusion
The moment finally arrived. Our fates were about to be discovered through the information that rested on that all encompassing and all powerful clipboard.
“Well, ladies and gentleman, we are very pleased to share that it looks like all of you will be getting to join us for the show today! We hope you have an amazing time and make sure you laugh A LOT!”
We were then whisked up a flight of stairs to sit in a big waiting lounge decorated with huge framed photos of iconic Tonight Show moments. After a short time, we were taken in small groups up an elevator to studio 6B where we were escorted to the very familiar red cushioned seats. A warm-up guy came out and got us all pepped up for the main show and he was VERY good at his job. As he began asking questions of the audience members, sprinkling in jokes to loosen us all up, The Roots came out to tune their instruments and set up. I was feeling an anticipation, unlike anything I had ever experienced.
“Is this actually happening to me right now? Am I actually about to watch a live taping of the Tonight Show? Am I actually about to check off my biggest musical bucket list of all time by seeing Bon Iver? Are these both actually happening simultaneously!?!"
All of the sudden Steve Higgins emerged to his podium. The Roots clicked into their opening number and the applause signs were illuminated throughout the studio. The show had begun!
I was entranced in a state of semi-shock for the next hour or so. The monologue was witty, silly and full of Trump jokes. The Donald was actually going to be the guest on the show the following night! Mind you, this was in the thick of the campaign trail, very tense times. Jimmy breezed through the tension like it was nothing. Kevin James and Michael B. Jordan were the guests on the show and Jimmy made them shine.
To wrap up the episode Bon Iver came out and premiered a song called '8 (circle)'. I couldn’t grasp the magic in its entirety in the moment. I am not ashamed to say I sobbed. It was such a build up of emotion and excitement and the song is just so DAMN hauntingly beautiful. Here’s a clip of the performance, you try and tell me it’s not a masterpiece.
A year later and I can still tangibly feel the reverberating effects of this incredible experience. At the time, I remember almost feeling a little embarrassed by the activity on my FB while all of this was going down. I felt like MY dream somehow, for a brief moment, became a dream that OTHERS could participate in and feel a part of. I had invited others to believe with me for something that could have been seen as trivial and unimportant. The risk of it all became a real joy and celebration for those who journeyed with me into that studio. People watched in as I did FB live updates of us camping out on the street. People commented and asked for updates constantly as I stood in line to get the final decision. People watched the show that night knowing I was in the studio and posted clips on my FB page of me jumping up and down in pure adulation as Jimmy ran through the audience and did his iconic high fives to end the show. I woke up the next morning to messages from my friends all over the world telling me how pumped THEY were to see me for that brief 2 seconds. It’s all kinda silly when I actually think about it. I wasn’t the guest or the musical act. I was just a dude who went to way to great of lengths to sit in the far back left corner of the audience and sob uncontrollably as the show wrapped up.
An hour or so after the show I felt this sick, ungodly temptation to water down the experience. A religious notion crept in that what I experienced shouldn’t have impacted me the way it just had. I remember asking God “Why do I feel the need to compare this to other experiences I've had in the church? Am I allowed to feel MORE enthralled by your presence in this tv studio, than what I’ve experienced in a corporate worship context for many, many years?”
Immediately I felt Holy Spirit whisper to me an emphatic YES to that question. I felt conflicted in myself, but the generosity of Gods spirit knows no bounds. Ultimately, I had invited my heavenly Father to journey with me in this story. This question of comparison and inquiry wasn’t birthed in his heart, it wasn’t God’s voice chiming in. He had no need to separate the value of the experiences. He was simply overjoyed that me as his son, had invited him as my Father into such a wonderful moment and experience.
Would any Father not be overjoyed by their child, brimming with excitement, inviting them to participate with them in their favorite thing? What loving Father would say to their child "Why are you so excited about showing me the silly little lego set you just completed." Or say to their child, "Why are you so pumped to show me the funky dance number you just choreographed, purely to perform just for me.”? That's the behavior and attitude of an aloof and uncaring father.
Here’s the thing I've discovered through this experience. The moment we invite our creator into our dreams IS the moment something profound begins to occur. If our hearts open wide to the initiator of OUR dreams, then the only thing keeping that moment SECULAR, is the state of our own hearts. When we begin to open our hearts and allow them to be soft towards Jesus, we tend to continually gravitate more and more to instinctively inviting him into ALL aspects of our human experience(s), not LESS. The moment Jesus has our heart, in that exact instance that moment becomes HOLY. That moment becomes PROFOUND. That moment becomes SACRED.
I also felt Holy Spirit challenge me further on why this moment mattered. I felt him remind me that Jimmy Fallon was designed to make people laugh and draw people in. He reminded me that Justin Vernon was hardwired to create heavenly melodies and sonic masterpieces. In the Church, we can often have an underlying religious notion that the things that people do and create, who don’t “know Jesus” are somehow LESS THAN.
The following statement may be a bit of a challenging statement, so buckle up for it. I left that TV set feeling like these iconic artists GLORIFIED God over that 90 minutes! They were flowing in their inherent abilities and it impacted each and every person in that room. I saw these incredibly gifted and devoted individuals pushing themselves to make the work of their hands count. I was in the presence of excellence, and it deeply impacted me.
Something of our evangelical foundation immediately wants to sink that notion. “How can that be Stevie? How can something from a non-believer have any kind of significant impact on a believer?”
I am re-orienting myself to the notion that an eternal reality, though impossible to comprehend, usually finds its start by acknowledging what is real, and what is true, and what is good, right in front of me. What better way to encourage the Jimmy’s and Justin's of my life to know Jesus, than by simply acknowledging the indelible marks of Jesus' image that are already being inherently displayed in and through their lives? When we start our evaluations with WHAT ISN'T before we celebrate WHAT IS, we lose an opportunity to bring glory to the creator of ALL good things.
Keep singing Justin.
Keep joking Jimmy.
Keep dreaming Stevie.
Keep dreaming friends.