Describing what took place in Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday night seems nearly impossible. It was one of those “you had to be there” moments to truly understand. To put it simply, what happened Wednesday night was miraculous.
Beginning the service, the three finalists in the Battle of the Bands contest were brought to the stage. The audience was allowed three minutes to submit their vote via text message to determine a winner. After all in the arena intently kept their eye on the ever-changing percentages, the time ran out. Receiving over 40 percent of the votes, Ellen Tkacsik was declared the winner. “It just feels crazy,” said Ellen after hearing the news.
As the new titleholder, Tkacsik was given the chance to perform for the production of a music video. The video will be revealed Thursday night at Main Stage for all of CHIC to see.
Next on stage, Flyleaf performed accompanied by flashing lights, pounding drums, squealing guitars and top-of-their lungs singing. Although not a common style of worship music, it was clear that the members of Flyleaf had a passionate love for the Lord.
“We’re not better than anyone in this room,” said Lacey Mosley, lead vocalist of Flyleaf. All of this is from God, she said, we were only a band of friends who played together in a garage for fun. God had plans above all we could ask or imagine.
Next on the lineup for the evening was another conversation with the Thailand team. Rather than speaking to the Thailand team across the ocean via satellite, Kerrick, MJ, Rachel and Pastor Cue were on stage, in the flesh, to share with students more about their experiences in Thailand.
An opportunity will be given Thursday evening at Main Stage for CHIC-goers to give to a World Relief offering going toward Thailand.
Following the testimonies of the Thailand crew, the CHIC worship band led students in a heartfelt worship service as an incredibly talented artist skillfully painted the face of Jesus on two different canvases in the middle of the arena. It was truly a sight to see.
Judy Peterson shared a powerful, life-altering message that encouraged students to stop hiding behind a facade. I clean my house before the cleaning lady comes, she said. I used to set my alarm clock so I could get up before my husband so he wouldn’t see the real me without makeup. I paint my toenails before getting a pedicure, said Peterson.
“I live a lie a whole lot of my life. I give the illusion I have it together all the time,” she said. All have their reasons for pretending, but one major fear is rejection. “It’s risky to put yourself out there,” said Peterson.
Loving those whose brokenness and messiness is obvious is easy, such as the homeless or sick. For those of us whose messiness is not obvious, we really need to know God’s love because it’s easier for us to miss His grace, Peterson said. “Christians are often the best pretenders in this game,” she claimed.
Even in our churches, so often our mess is hidden, Peterson said. When sharing prayer requests we pray for things such as holding off the rain for the church picnic. We are coming before our living God and we’re praying for rain? We pretend when our whole life is a struggle, why not be praying for that battle with that unending addiction?
“Pretending lets you have more friends, but I don’t know if they’re friends,” Peterson said. Honesty takes time and we are so busy that we don’t take the time to be honest.
Referencing the story of David and his affair with Bathsheba, followed by the murder of Uriah, Peterson read through Psalm 32. David tried to cover his mistakes, he tried to pretend his way out of it, but it didn’t work. It was not until he confessed his transgressions before God and accepted His forgiveness that David was truly free and able to rejoice.
When sin is not hidden something amazing happens, you’re blessed, Peterson said. It is no longer a fight for survival, but a life of blessing.
In an effort to emphasize her message, Peterson defeated one of her biggest fears onstage before all 5,200 CHIC-goers. Going without makeup is something she never does in public, it is a nerve-wracking exposure for her. Yet before the entire audience, Peterson used a wet washcloth to scrub off every bit of makeup covering her face.
“This is what you have on your soul,” she said as she held up the filthy washcloth.
Every morning, she shared, my sweet husband says, “You are the most beautiful without your makeup on” and kisses my eyelids.
God says the same to us. When our souls are not caked in lies, discolored in false identities and hidden in fear, that is when God kisses our eyelids and says “You are most beautiful without your makeup on, My child.”
A tender God He is, one who Jesus called “Abba,” which is what a Jewish child calls his daddy. Remain in the Abba love because the Abba calls you “beloved”, said Peterson. And nothing will ever separate you from the One who calls you “beloved.”
Walking with the Lord is like dancing, Peterson said. Perhaps we have forgotten how, or maybe we have never done it before. Yet in His beautiful love He says, “Stand on My shoes, I’ll show you.” He holds on with a grip that will never let go and wondrously looks in your eyes, seeing you as His child, His pure, forgiven and forever-loved child.
A cross was mounted in the center of the arena and the opportunity was made available for students to come to the floor and make commitments before the Lord. The Holy Spirit was densely present in the room as the process of becoming undone for many had just begun.
Allowing time to process together what they had just experienced, students and their leaders were given about 30 minutes to break into small groups. Soon they silently filed back into the arena, as all prepared for communion. The CHIC band led the worship as each took their turn at the Lord’s Supper.
In conclusion to the service, all linked hands and together recited the benediction. Many walked out of Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday night with their world rocked and life forever changed.