On Friday night, a pretty big storm rolled thru and knocked out power in a widespread area in DC/Maryland/Virginia area. Though we woke up with lights, our street - driveways, yards, the street itself - was littered with what used to be trees. There were reported thousands without power and the temperature was going back up towards 100 degrees again on Saturday. According to the news, it was bad all over the area.
In the meantime, the Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour was scheduled for Saturday night at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Ft. Washington. The gospel concert, featuring the group 21:03, Byron Cage, and Fred Hammond, was sponsored by McDonald's, and a free-will offering during the event would benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Often times, things happen and we think "hmm, interesting coincidence." But I don't think God works in coincidences, they aren't to Him anyway. I do believe that when you are put in certain situations, you are put there for a reason. Maybe to open your eyes, maybe to expand your mind, maybe to entertain you. Maybe so God can speak to you. Maybe all of those reasons or more.
When we got to the church, a line of people was literally, circling the building; hundreds of people standing in the humid heat waiting to get inside. Inside where it was cool, to comfort the body, and inside where it would soon be spirit filled, to comfort the soul. And we were not disappointed in either respect. Our hearts were lifted as the three performers occupied the stage. Evin Martin and Torrence Green of 21:03 danced and sang in their hip-hop-style, their lyrics, "I'm still here because the blood still has its power," reminding us that we can still make it long after we think we can't. It moved from a concert to church as Byron Cage told us that God had "A Message" for us and he would continue to "bless the Lord for all time". I lost count of the songs Fred Hammond sang, but was fully filled as he moved to close with one of my favorites - "They That Wait".
In the middle of all the music, a true message came through, a reminder to consider our blessings. With the heat and no A/C, its easy to take pity on ourselves and pout and complain about the rough spot we're in. But, as Fred Hammond said, there are plenty of people out there who would trade spots with you, to have your problems, and give you theirs. First in line, think about the people who didn't have power before the storm, or don't even have a home to now be without power. And yes, I am saying this in a house with power, but trust me, there's other petty annoyances and inconveniences in my life that I complain about, too.
And this simple reminder brought me back to the point of the entire concert - the Ronald McDonald Houses. I know they exist, I've read the info on that little box on the McD's counter that asks you to drop in your change and watched some commercials or read a brochure over the years, but, quite honestly, never made any concerted effort to know more. These are temporary homes for families whose children, generally critically ill children, are receiving long-term, medical care. The homes allow the families to be close to their child without the added expense of hotel stays. As a parent, I can't imagine a more scarier or stressful situation.
But parenthood changes you, it makes you open your eyes to things, makes you prioritize differently, makes you want to be stronger. In fact, any life change or personal obstacle can push you to draw upon a strength you never knew you had, and when that's all gone, to look to a higher source, an infinite source of power. You might have to sweat, you might have to wait for relief or for the things you think you want, but there is a power that will never go out, never leave you in the dark for days on end. All you have to do is ask, "Father, please help me."