You may be feeling totally inadequate, far from ready for that task. But if so, you have forgotten the most important part of the equation. It is not about you and your best efforts. It is about the light, power, and love of Christ illuminating our fragile lives.
It’s New Year’s Eve in downtown Nashville, and things are getting crazy. There’s a mood of fun and festivity everywhere you look. And inside the biggest arena of all, two of the most popular country acts in the nation lead thousands of fans in a celebration of the end of one year and the beginning of the next. The music cranks up loud and the shouts of the audience respond in kind. The truth is, people love to party.
That night in Tennessee, we arrived to prepare for the Passion college gathering. Over the next few evenings the same arena would fill again, and we’d start a party of a different kind. No less volume or excitement—hopefully more—but a whole different reason for letting out those shouts of joy.
If people can get that excited over December becoming January, what on earth does it look like when over twenty thousand college students get their hearts and heads around the glory and grace of God? What does it sound like when we find ourselves caught up in the epic story of the One who came to this earth, endured the cross, and made a way home for us—all in the name of love and rescue?
As loud and as fun as those New Year celebrations might be, shouldn’t they become just the faintest whisper when compared with the thunderous shouts and applause that accompany the praise of the King of all heaven? In the words of the old worship hymn, “Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.”
I once met a man who’d survived a shark attack by screaming so loudly that he burst blood vessels in his neck. His ear-piercing cries gave the shark so much of a headache that it gave up the attack and swam away. Where did such a loud scream come from? It came from deep inside him—from the very depths of who he was, crying out for mercy and survival.
So on the last night of the Passion student gathering that year, my good friend Louie Giglio, the founder of Passion, decided we were going to throw the party to end all parties. No low-key affair with some semiloud music and a halfhearted whoop or two—but a full-on, turn-it-up-loud celebration of the Son of God. The point being that if we truly live in the light of Christ and all that He has accomplished, there’s a time to be a little bit outrageous in our gathered response to Him.
The day of the worship-fueled party arrived, and things were beginning to happen inside the arena. People hung extra lights and prepared song lists, and everything looked good for some extreme celebration. Apart from one thing, that is. Louie had been excitedly talking about a mirror-ball moment, which he’d planned for a while.
At just the right time, during a joyful worship song, he planned to lower this thing, shine some lights on it, and give a little extra visually creative expression to these full-on celebrations.
The first time I heard about the mirror ball, it sounded like a good idea—until I entered the arena, that is. Hanging above the center of the stage was a tiny spherical object, and as I strained my eyes to see it, I thought the object certainly looked like a mirror ball.
But I was sure this couldn’t be Louie’s mirror ball: It was tiny—the kind of thing I’d seen every year from the age of seven at my school disco. Yet—I looked around—there didn’t seem to be any other mirror balls hanging up there. And so I had to conclude that this must be the one he was talking about.
Quite frankly, I was worried. I decided that we were headed for the biggest anticlimax in the history of Christian worship gatherings. Louie had told everyone on the team about this great disco-ball moment that would help lead us in our joyful worship celebrations—when, as far as I could tell, it was going to be a moment of laughter for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to be a good friend and warn him—but he was so pumped about his little mirror ball, I just didn’t have the heart.
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The evening was wonderful. The thousands of students assembling that night to worship Jesus arrived in silence—as we’d been encouraged to do to prepare our hearts for gathered worship. Through songs and sounds and moments of ancient liturgy, we went to the cross. There we recalled the most amazing act of obedience and sacrifice this world has ever seen.
We paused for a while, and I was reminded once again that God makes worshippers out of wonderers. As our hearts breathed in afresh the mystery of grace, we exhaled reverent awe and thanksgiving in response. The soul-gripping mystery of Calvary fueled the fires of our praise, and remembrance led us to rejoicing.
Next, we began to turn up the volume a notch or two, with heartfelt songs of devotion resounding intensely around the room. In Scripture, Jesus Himself said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks—and as we stood there in amazement at the grace and glory of God, sounds of joyful thanksgiving tried to find a way out of our hearts.
And then the moment arrived. Mirror ball time. Down from the ceiling came the world’s smallest disco ball. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry … or get my binoculars out to actually see the thing.
However, in one bright, shining moment, all of my fears died. Powerful beams of light hit the face of the ball, and suddenly, in every corner of that massive arena, radiance shone all around. Light filled the room. It seemed to glow on every face and shine on every inch of floor, wall, and ceiling. A huge arena filled with light—by way of a tiny little mirror ball. And people partied. In that moment, focusing on the glory of the Savior and celebrating His victories, we shouted for joy and danced with abandon.
It turns out that in all my doubting and questioning of Louie’s mirror ball, I’d seriously underestimated the most important factor—the power and brilliance of the beams of light that shone upon it.
In the end, it was all a matter of light.
When it comes to a life of worship and mission, the very same rules apply. In and of ourselves we have no light. But in His bright and shining light we are transformed—and begin to radiate the glories of our God to the world around us. You may be feeling totally inadequate, far from ready for that task.
But if so, you have forgotten the most important part of the equation. It is not about you and your best efforts. It is about the light, power, and love of Christ illuminating our fragile lives. As Scripture reminds us, the same God who said, “Let there be light,” has made His light to shine in our hearts.
When God shines upon His church, we become a dazzling testimony to His awesome radiance. You may feel ineffective. You might have lost confidence in your ability to shine. You may think you are too small or inconsequential to ever be of any value in the kingdom of God. But no matter at all—for, in the end, it’s all a matter of light. His light. The life of worship never begins with you. It starts and ends with Jesus.
This article is excerpted from Matt Redman’s book, Mirror Ball: Living a Life that Reflects God’s Radiance.
Copyright 2011 Matt Redman. Mirror Ball published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.