The other day, I realized something surprising about myself. Driving home from work, a single, captivating thought blossomed in my mind like an unexpected flower.
I would go to a Travis Tritt concert.
I wasn’t thinking about Travis Tritt at the time. The song, “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares,” wasn’t on. I wasn’t even listening to Third Day, who’s singer I used to think was Travis Tritt after some sort of miraculous country music style conversion inevitably involving a slide guitar.
I think I was pondering the wonders of Travis Tritt last week because I was nervous about going to the Catalyst Conference. If you’ve never been, Catalyst is like if a U2 concert and the Super Bowl had a baby and dedicated it to the service of the Lord. It’s huge, but at the same time, surprisingly intimate. The worship is amazing, the speakers are great, the whole thing is unbelievable.
And I was speaking.
Two years ago, I held a meet and greet for fans of Stuff Christians Like. I honestly thought that around 100 people would show up to hang out. I brought pounds of Skittles and 1,000 stickers. And after waiting in the room for 90 minutes, only 1 person came. (This is a photo of that moment.)
As I prepared for Catalyst this year, I was afraid of something similar happening. I knew more than 1 person would show up to the lab I was leading on Wednesday, but other than that I didn’t know what to expect.
So it was with a great degree of sweatiness that I stood by the door waiting for my lab or breakout to start.
What happened? How did it go? How was it?
We hit fire code.
Within a matter of minutes there was standing room only. We exceeded fire code for the room and then had to bar the doors. Dozens of people got turned away. If one person left for the bathroom, one more person could come in. It was crazy, and that was only the beginning.
Catalyst sold out of the Stuff Christians Like book.
Random people went out of their way to be kind to me. Pastor Andy Stanley told me his kids bought the book with their own money. Perry Noble told me how true Stuff Christians Like was. Out of nowhere, one of the best selling Christian authors of all time emailed me to ask I had someone to write the foreword for my next book.
Wave after wave of good things hit me. I was feeling overwhelmed in a good way as I stood in the dark tunnel that led out to the stadium. The move to Nashville two months ago. The site having over 160,000 readers in September alone. Writing two books. There were so many big, bright, honestly very good things going on and in that moment I heard a whisper.
I always feel kind of like a snake handler when I talk about feeling as if God speaks into my heart, but there it is. In the loudness of that day, like a firecracker going off under water, muffled by the noise of the moment, I felt like God jumped in. And he told me,
“This is small.
This is small.
This is small, compared to my love. The happiness of today, the wildness, the unfettered shine of it all is beautiful, but it is small. My love for who you are, who I made you to be, who I will reveal you to be, that is so much bigger than all of this. I am bigger. I am biggest! Nothing will compare to my love for you. Not today, not ever.
My love eclipses the greatest happiness this world can offer like the ocean crashing down on a single raindrop. This is small compared to how much I love you.”
That is what I heard and then 30 seconds later I watched John Mark McMillan play an acoustic version of his song, “How he loves.” And then I started to cry in the tunnel, because it was true.
Sometimes I fear that Serious Wednesday posts stray into the melancholy. I struggle with fear and depression. I write sometimes like lyrics from the Cure or a long acoustic version of the Counting Crows “Round Here.”
But today will be different. Today, like Abraham stacking a pile of rocks in a place God showed up as a reminder for generations to come, I just want to write of love. I want these words to be rocks and I want the reminder to be simple.
God loves you.
God loves you.
God loves you.
I don’t have a witty insight or a clever twist to leave you thinking about. I just have those three words and I hope they sink in today. I hope in meetings and the grocery store and waiting in the car pick up line at your kid’s school, you will hear that whisper too. And you will know.
God loves you.