“Today is the greatest day I’ve never known
Can’t wait for tomorrow I might not have that long
I’ll tear my heart out before I get out.” – Billy Corgan
The lyrics of the Smashing Pumpkins were of no comfort that rainy afternoon. They only seemed to inflame my dismay and anger my heart. I was 18 and confused. I had just attended a meeting with the administration of my would-be college, when they informed me that the allotment of my financial aide package had been allocated to another student. “What?” I squeaked out with fear and fury. Haphazardly, the amount of money set aside for me to cover the impending amount for college, had been removed from my availability to go toward helping another student. I didn’t know what to do. I was going to have to pack up and leave school. I was going to have to tell my dorm roommate he was going to have more space than he expected. I was going to have to tell the people I knew I couldn’t afford to stay. I would have to move back to the uncertain dreariness of where I came from. I was going to be cut off from my planned path to success, friends and distinction. My world was crashing down. My future was crumbling. My hope was ripped from my hands. Needless to say, the tears of overwhelming emotion were welling up and overflowing. As the administrator allowed me to exit with grace, through the side door, I heard the words of the song, “Today is the greatest day I’ve never known…” What a load of garbage!!! Today is the worst day ever!
I ran off into the back end of campus and up into the hills behind it. I ran and ran and ran; crying out to the heavens angry and scared words of distress. Heavy rain poured down on me. Heavy thoughts nearly drowned me. What was I going to do? What would others say? What a failure I am. Where was I going to go? The anxiety pounded along with the thunder and lightning. The worst storm to hit Santa Barbara in 30 years was coinciding with the worst storm of my young life. My opportunity to escape the circumstances of my youth and step forward to the new stage of my own path, and a new level of self-governance in my life, hit a wall I saw no way around. The center of my world was in crisis; everything falling apart, injustice and confusion reigning supreme and nothing but darkness seemed ahead.
Given the fluctuating circumstances in our world today, how many of us feel like this right now, this week, or in this season of life? How many of us see approaching doom, filled with the anxiety of what is to come? There are details piling up, worries knocking on our door, and anxiety whispering the hallways, calling us late at night and robbing us of peace. We see the storm clouds forming and the tears are welling up. What are we going to do? What can we do to get ourselves through the storm? When we are on the brink of would be desolation; where do we turn? Do we seek a path of perspective truth? Are we comforted by the idioms of practicality? Will we muster our inward strength to help us survive; finding secret truths to success, personally controlled paths to power, inside information, connections to completion and self-focused paths to realization, individualism and successful pursuits? At the end of our ropes, with the last ounce of strength; where does our hope come from? Our hope comes from One who is higher than we are. Our hope is in One who has the power, the desire and the understanding to bring the needed change to us. One. One source. One place. One person. Someone who can outstretch their hands and calm the storm. Someone who can turn tears into laughter. Someone who stands with us through the fires and floods in life. A place of refuge when we don’t know where to go. A source of understanding, love and acceptance; through the good times and the bad. One. When our focus is on the One, though our circumstances may not immediately change, we are lifted from the oppression of our heavy hearts, our nagging anxieties and our worrisome minds; we are transformed to peace contained in Him. Him who created us: Him who lived to know us and died to save us. The One in whom we have hope amidst the storms.
Fortunately for us who live amidst the storms of life, Jesus Christ came to call us out of the overwhelming circumstances of our existence to find life newly defined in Him. We have been called to a transformation in Him. Our lives are not lived in the central sway of what we are to do, how we are supposed to handle what we face and where we should concentrate our efforts to abundantly achieve success in our endeavors. We are called to seek Him first, seek Him fervently and seek Him continuously; that we may know the abundance of his peace, his purpose and his provision. A man plans his paths, yet the Lord determines his steps. When we look inward for resolutions, we take our eyes off of his provision. When we scrutinize our circumstances and focus on the details and entitlements, we lose sight of the true omnipotence of our Sovereign Lord. The Lord who calms the storms. The Lord who uses us to empathetically encourage our fellow humans in the midst of distress. The Lord who came to earth; having people spit in his face, undermine and betray Him, ridicule and tempt Him, and unjustly and inhumanely accuse, beat and kill Him – in their own understanding of what is right. Whatever we are going through, He knows the pain of the storm. We have a Lord who took the incarnation of mistreatment and injustice, hatred and divisiveness; that we might be freed to know a new way of life in Him. He endured and rose again through the ugliness of human life. His undertaking was in obedience to the will of the Father. His accomplishment was an act of the love of a Righteous Lord. His achievement was for an Audience of One. He knew the pain, the tears and the abuse; yet He offered up his will to the will of the One He was serving. Through his obedience He says to us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He is our Audience of One; the One who overcame the world, was obedient to death and has been lifted high. He changes our perspectives to look not at what we want to do, or what we think we should do; but what He would have us do.
So, what is our direction in light of his Lordship, our Audience of One, rather than our reliance upon ourselves and our insight? During the difficulty of my experience of disappointment and disconnection, God used the storm of my circumstances to develop my heart toward his desired focus in my life rather than my own. I was seeking the audience of myself. I was scared, isolated and lost in the tempest of anxiety and self-focused reality. I was feeling as if I was left to my own resources rather than cared for by the resources of an all powerful God. His restoration of my eyes to see his control changed my life. The storm which illuminated Him as the central focus of my life set my feet on the path which leads to Him, through Him, rather than a journey to my own success through my own provision. That day helped to create a cornerstone for reliance upon Him whether I am in the terror of the storm or the joys of his blessing. The cornerstone which I had rejected, which the world continues to reject, became the foundation of my true security known only in the Audience of One. He knew my heart, my needs, and most importantly, that my survival was based in my dependence upon Him. God did not intend for us to survive without Him; living on our own and for ourselves. In the storms of life, we become actively aware of how our power is insufficient and how finite our understanding is. In centering our focus on Him, his will and living with Him; we open the floodgates of his blessing into our hearts. And He gives abundantly to those who seek Him. He gives us the peace, the provision and the presence of his Spirit to help us through. His abundance comes not as we expect or conceive, but as his grace gives perfectly in light of our need. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it; and his gifts never come up short.
That same day that I ran out in the storm, confused, afraid and feeling alone, the Lord gave me exactly what I needed: Himself. He showed me that my only method for survival in going through these times is clinging to Him. I still had to leave school, there were still uncertainties ahead; but I was aware that He was with me and his intention for me was greater than my own plan. In addition on that day, not only did He show me Himself, but his grace was abundantly overflowing in giving me one of the best friends of my life. He connected me to one of his own, another wounded soldier in his army. Someone who understood heavy thoughts, deep emotions and lived in the grace of the Lord. He gave me someone to encourage me as I try to cling to the One, someone to help me keep my focus on the Lord; a blessing not of my asking, but of his knowing the deep necessity of my heart. This is the abundance of the Lord; the One who knows the inner being of our deepest need and gives us more than we would dare to ask. He intimately knows us, and calls us to rely on Him as the center of our experience in this world. He asks us to trust his goodness,his faithfulness and his understanding above our own. He is calling to us, “In this world, be confident, the One you serve has overcome it, and is at the center of your provision of every aspect of your daily life.” Let us seek Him as the center. Let us go to Him in our storms. He knows our every need and will open our eyes to his blessing as we seek Him with all our hearts. Let today be the greatest day you’ve ever known; and place your hope in Him and live for an Audience of One.