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"The Performance"

It had to be my best performance ever.

The crowd was enthusiastically hanging on every note as I belted out song after song. It felt like I was in some crazy musical zone…the adrenaline was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The band and singers were on point; every rehearsed musical nuance was flowing as if guided by some divine power that we could not see.

The people applauded….they cried and shouted hallelujahs and amens throughout the entire performance…prodding me for more and more…not wanting them to leave disappointed I gave them all that I had. Sweat poured from my face, my clothes were drenched with perspiration, and my throat was aching from the strain of all the incredible runs and chord changes that I was adding to take each song over the top. But it was worth it. This was a once in a lifetime experience. I thought to myself “Surely this is God! How pleased He must be with this performance…I will be so much closer to Him after this!” I was very pleased with myself.

It was about halfway through my performance that I noticed my father sitting in the crowd. He was on the front row right in the middle…the seat I had reserved especially for him. I had asked him to come and he promised me that he would be there. In all the excitement I hadn’t noticed him…as a matter of fact I did not even see him come in. I was so glad to see him sitting there. If there was anyone that I wanted to share this incredible day with it was my father. I smiled at him as I thought to myself “How proud you must be of your son!”

I looked at him, pointed to him and smiled. He looked back at me…but something was not right. He wasn’t smiling. It was almost as if he didn’t even see me. But how could he not see ME? I’m the star of the show…ME. Daddy…look at me…I made it! Isn’t this what you always wanted? To see me on the big stage, singing praises to the multitudes? Leading hundreds of people in worship and pointing them to Jesus? Can’t you see, Daddy? I’m doing this for you! All of this is for you! Please Daddy…please…

It was then that it hit me. It wasn’t that he didn’t see me. He looked at me…and he saw me. He saw me. No, not the image I was projecting ….not the façade that looked so holy and sincere. What he saw was the intent of my heart. It was dark and ugly, filled with pride and vanity…I was thinking only of myself…hiding under a mask that to those without spiritual discernment looked just like righteousness and holiness. But my father…he knew me. From the moment I came from my mother’s womb, he knew me. Oh my God! If he knows the very number of hairs on my head how could he not know my heart? Had my own self-righteousness so blinded me that I deceived even myself to believe that it was my performance that would please my father?

That was it…that was what the look was! My father was ashamed of me! His heart was broken and saddened at my vain attempt to please him in and through my own flesh. I thought that my performance would make him happy, but instead I had broken my father’s heart. Total sadness overwhelmed me as I realized that I had disappointed the one who had loved and cared for me even at my lowest. My daddy…the one who always wanted the best for me. My Daddy…who always said “Son, you should love the Lord thy God with all of your heart, mind and soul.” I remembered when I first started in ministry he reminded me…”Son, always keep God first in everything that you do.”

Daddy…I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to break your heart. “Please Daddy” I cried…can you ever forgive me? Daddy…I need you! I understand…I truly understand it now. I’m sorry.

It’s not my performance that matters to my father. It’s my heart. He simply wants my heart. He wants me to simply love him…above all…and to let all that I do…every word I speak, every song I sing…to flow from a heart full of love and devotion to him.

No performance will ever bring joy to the heart of God.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:23

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