Yesterday was quite a day, full of adventure, fear, and straight-up awesomeness. What did I do? I went to the Kentucky high school marching band state semifinals and finals (which is far more exciting than those of you unfamiliar with competitive marching band would ever believe).
I was a band geek and played trumpet through all of middle and high school. My brother was in the drumline up until this year, so I’ve kept up with my alma mater. My friend Rachel is one of their field commanders this year, and she is the last student I am really close to in the band, so we made the trek down to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to see her and the band perform for her senior year.
Like I said, it was quite a day. And thinking about it on the (very late/early) drive home, I was thinking about how we could see God in the details of the day. In some, I could see him working. Others pointed back to his broader character and actions. So, while I certainly don’t believe in spending all my blog space recapping my day-to-day life, here are some of the details in which I saw God on this semi-ordinary (yet kind of crazy) day.
A suicidal sunroof. My brother and his girlfriend were driving behind us in his girlfriend’s car. Suddenly, the sunroof of her car flew up into the air and shattered onto the road behind them. We were several hours from home and they were planning on driving back to school in Louisville that night. When we got to Bowling Green, we got plastic and duct tape (Duck duct tape, to be precise. It’s the stickier version of duck, duck, goose) at Wal-Mart and the boys covered the gaping hole in her roof (very thoroughly).
How do I see God in something bizarre like this? First of all, it is always by the grace of God when something large comes flying off a vehicle on a highway and it doesn’t cause a wreck. Second, it reminded me of our shortcomings and God’s completeness. There was no way we could have repaired that shattered glass. And our temporary duct tape/plastic replacement, though the best of its kind, was just that— a temporary replacement. God, on the other hand, can take a shattered life and make it like new. He fills in the cracks with himself, because only he can make it complete. Our duct tape efforts might make us feel secure for a while, but they won’t fill the gaping holes in our lives forever.
A little blue dot. My friend Evan, who was driving the other vehicle, didn’t trust the directions I printed off Google Maps. He insisted that I use the Maps app on his iPhone. They were exactly the same directions (because the maps app on the iPhone is Google Maps). When I told him this, he confessed that he felt better when he had the little blue dot to show him where he was. Later, forced to navigate using the iPhone, I told him to take a few wrong turns because the Maps app was turned the wrong direction. We eventually figured out where we were going, but not until I turned the map the right way.
In the same way, we need direction from God in our life. He’s got much more accurate, updated, and broader information than Google Maps. But it’s difficult to move in the right direction if you’re looking at yourself the wrong way. If you’re going to follow God’s leading in your life, you have to have a right perspective of yourself: God’s perspective. If not, the Maps app is upside down and your blue dot is headed for a wrong turn.
A forgotten backpack. In my haste to get a refill and catch up with my friends as we were leaving Moe’s after supper, I tried to go out the door that led to a fenced-in patio. I also left my backpack and didn’t realize it until we got back to the parking lot near the stadium. It was certainly by God’s grace that when I called Moe’s, it was still there, and when I returned for it, nothing had been taken (debit card, iPod, gum). It is in moments like that, where I definitely could have panicked, when God grants me peace. Even if something had been taken, it would have been ok.
A kick-butt performance with a redemptive outcome. Rachel and the band were devastated the week before, at quarterfinals, because they placed much more poorly than usual among the AAAAA bands in the East region, earning them an earlier performance time (they performed 3rd out of 16 bands) in semifinals. In marching band, this is usually a death sentence. The scores start out low and get higher throughout the contest, the better bands pushing the scores even higher. In the past six years, only one or two bands have made one of the coveted four finals spots when performing in the first eight bands in semifinals.
But Madison Central (my school) worked their butts off this past week, and, with everything to prove and nothing to lose, put on one of the best performances I’ve ever seen them do from the stands. We knew it was finals-worthy, but we had to wait until the rest of the bands finished to see if the judges agreed or if the early time slot had completely killed their chance.
When they announced Madison Central as one of the finalist bands, I jumped out of my seat and cheered like crazy. They’d accomplished what so many had said was impossible. Though they ended up getting fourth in finals, just making it was a victory this year.
I love a good underdog story, and this was one I witnessed with my own eyes. One of the reasons I love the success of underdogs so much is because it shows the beauty of redemption and the glory of overcoming tremendous obstacles. And that’s God’s story for us, if we embrace it. We are all underdogs when it comes to sin and death. We could never conquer them, no matter how much we try. But then Jesus Christ came and destroyed their hold on us. By him, we overcome. By Christ, the most pitiful of underdogs become the most conquering of champions.
Stars. On the ride home through the dark country, we could see so many stars so brightly. It was beautiful. Yet, we couldn’t see them all. We can see only a fraction of them. But they’re out there. Not many would dispute that even if you can’t see all the stars that exist, they’re out there. And so it is with God. Sometimes you can see him in the details, in the little things (or in the giant, flaming balls of gas that appear little because they’re so far away). But sometimes it’s difficult to see how he’s working or how something that happens can point to him. That doesn’t mean he isn’t there, working in the details, filling in the cracks, covering us with grace and peace, leading us in the right direction, turning us from underdogs to champions.
I think Switchfoot sings it best: “When I look at the stars, I see Someone else.”