Maybe a year ago I was in church focusing on the service and in my mind I suddenly had a picture of my son in front of the congregation playing his drums. This was not some mystical vision, but it came to my mind out of nowhere. At the time, Damien was playing drums in a rock band performing in bars.
Just in the last couple of months Damien was asked to play in a new band--in his new church. Amazing! He plays four services on Sundays. We had been trying to arrange a day we could go and see him. Finally it all worked out.
I really wanted to see my son on his drums serving the Lord with his incredible talent. But I had reservations about his church. It sounded like a very young church--young minister, young congregants. I knew it was very casual, very hip, reverberating with loud music and maybe dancing in the aisles? So unlike my church. I really didn't know what to expect. But I figured I could move out of my comfort zone one Sunday and support my son.
We were stopped as we first turned into the parking lot. Two guys waved at us and I rolled down my window. They wanted to know if this was our first visit to the church. The snapped bracelets on us so we could claim the gifts awaiting us inside. Then they directed us to a parking spot. As we entered the building others welcomed us with smiles and handshakes. These friendly folks were totally sincere and genuine; there was no pretense and no agenda. We were offered coffee and a young man told me to come to him personally if I needed anything or had any questions. Maybe my church could learn a thing or two about hospitality. Then a young woman offered me ear plugs. (Uh-oh.)
The service began with music--contemporary music to be sure, but godly music. The lyrics were clear on the screen in front. I did not need ear plugs. No one danced in the aisles. I kept my son in view, up front before the congregation. I saw the joy on his face. When the band played Chris Tomlin's song "Our God" tears filled my eyes. I thought back to a church I attended with my three little boys years ago (no Jon yet), when I was going through hard times. Folding chairs were crammed into an auditorium full of people. I knew no one, but the praise music washed over me, giving me renewed hope. After the service a woman approached me. She had not been sitting near me so I didn't know where she came from. She gestured to Damien and said God had given her words to share with me. She said, "Don't worry about all that's happened. He's going to be just fine. God has great plans for him."
I didn't quite understand. Damien was a tiny boy. But like Jesus' mother Mary, I kept these words and pondered them in my heart. This day, so many years later, I remember those words. Prophecy unfolding. God brought Damien to this place, in this time in his life. Damien says to me, "It's only the beginning." To remind me of this morning, I include the music Damien played. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlA5IDnpGhc
After the songs we saw a very touching baby dedication ceremony with young families up front, parents praying for their children. Then came a great message through, yes, a very young pastor. We headed out. The church was filling rapidly with a new crowd coming in for the next service. Damien went to get ready to play again.
We left joyful, energized, and thankful. And I didn't feel weird or out of place here. In fact, I felt quite at home. After all, it was in this kind of church, with this kind of young people, where I met Jesus forty years ago--when I was young.