(Mac Powell, James Autry, Steven Curtis Chapman, William Autry, Emily Hare, Brandon Heath, me)
When we show up, the Holy Spirit likes to show off. Want to know a secret to forgiving yourself that’s hidden in a surprising place?
Friday night, my friend James Autry, his 16-year-old, William, my 22-year-old, Emily, and I excitedly got swept up into one of the best concerts on the planet: the Songs and Stories tour of Steven Curtis Chapman, Mac Powell of Third Day, and Brandon Heath. The artists sang and described the story behind many of the songs they perform.
Brandon Heath sang I’m Not Who I Was, the #1 hit song on Christian radio in 2007, nominated for two Dove Awards. He told us that he was inspired after seeing an old photograph of his mother, years after his parents’ divorce. He reconnected with her and forgave her. I love that song. It’s one of my favorites.
We fans reveled in the concert. We laughed. We cried. We stomped. We hooted.
Three years ago, when Emily was the president of a Christian organization on campus at Mount Hood Community College, she sat down to dinner and tears brimmed. She stuttered and stammered. I urged her to share what was on her mind.
I thought, “I used to meet my kids’ confessions with harsh, critical comments. But whatever she’s about to say is already forgiven. She needs my approval.”
Emmy said that when she was in high school, she’d hung out with a crowd that was exploring the world’s ways. A young man, who’d gone out of his way to avoid me, had introduced her to illegal drugs.
“That’s where you were, but not who you are!” I told her with a grin.
I leapt up from the table and cranked the song I’m Not Who I Was. We danced around the table, singing along. I told Em that I loved her and gave her a hug.
And to my surprise, in my heart, I heard God say, “And you’re not who you were either. You’re not judging your kid. You’re giving her grace. You’re extending My love to her!”
Friday’s concert had special value to my friend James. He and Steven Curtis Chapman were old college buddies.
When the evening wound down, I asked James if he wanted to go backstage. He nodded, and walked through the double doors that led to a back hallway. He asked Mac and Brandon if they knew where his old college buddy, Steven Curtis Chapman was. They said, “No.” A few minutes later, we peeked in on the back of the stage.
A security guard appeared from nowhere. “Are you looking for Steven Curtis Chapman?” he asked.
James said, “Yes.” He told the security guard his name.
He wove us through the crowd to a room where maybe 35 people waited. A couple of minutes later, Steven, Mac Powell, and Brandon Heath walked in. Brandon walked straight over to me and gave me a bear hug as though he knew me! I felt Jesus in that hug. Beaming, we met with the three artists and told them how Spirit-filled the evening was.
The Holy Spirit was grinning. Here was a back stage pass with Him. Confirmation that I could let go of all the unholy moments I’d had with my kids, forgive myself, and reach forward for the next giant step for us all.
Friend, God says, “I have redeemed your past. Will you release a bit of that redemption to yourself? You’ve come a long way! Expect my friendship as we celebrate the new you.”
Friend, in what area have you grown? What makes you sing I’m Not Who I Was?
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