I have never seen anything quite like it and am struggling to find the words to describe the scene appropriately. My husband and I were at a Mat Kearney (yes, just one “t” – an error on his birth certificate that he chose to own) concert at a small, local theatre. The opener, a young guy by the name of Eli Templin (seriously could have passed for a high schooler) was on his first tour and, while opening for Mat, spoke highly of the headliner, honoring him with the comparison to a big brother. He commented on how much he was enjoying watching and learning from him with each performance. Eli’s words didn’t mean all that much until he took the stage with Mat and his simple statement absolutely came alive as he accompanied his mentor on the keyboard for the remainder of the show.
“On the edge of his seat … hanging on every word … engrossed … invested … waiting with bated breath … enchanted … transfixed.” Although none seem entirely adequate, hopefully one of these common phrases or adjectives will help you visualize the depth of joy, the richness of the respect Eli showed for his “big brother.” It was so moving and powerful to watch that I honestly had a hard time taking my eyes of him and giving my attention to the star of the show.
THIS, I thought to myself, this is how I need to fix my eyes on Jesus. This is how I want others to see my awe and love for Him. I need to be always on the edge of my seat rather than lounging comfortably. I need to be hanging on His every word, expectant and hopeful that I will hear the message He has just for me. I need to be engrossed in my faith and fully invested in living it each and every day, not just when it is convenient or fits in my schedule. I need to be enchanted by my Prince of Peace rather than the empty royalties of the world. Only with this level of attention will I be able to fall in line with His perfect will and find the rhythm I am meant to follow.
One might assume that the same set list night after night would grow old and monotonous. From the way Eli accompanied each song, you would never know he had heard it before. It was like each note was being uncovered for the first time. We cradle Catholics can certainly get caught in the more monotonous elements of the practice of our faith. I’ve attended Mass for so many years, I tend to sit, kneel, and stand like a robot. It is so easy to become lax and feel like the bare minimum is good enough. Watching Eli that evening got me to thinking — each new day, even in the more monotonous tasks, there is renewed opportunity to meet, absorb, and live the day in a way that is, at the very least, appreciative of the gift — if not all-out celebratory of what God has given us.
I have to wonder what Eli’s reaction was when he first heard the news that he was to tour with Mat Kearney. I imagine it was nothing less than explosive. Perhaps there was jumping; I’d bet there was a fair amount of shouting. What if we had the same kind of reaction every time we received an invitation to be with God (which, just fyiFYI, is every second of every day)? And the best part is, we don’t need an ounce of talent to be invited. We can be the hottest mess of all hot messes and God would celebrate every time we cast a nod His way. It’s a beautiful truth to sit with and a life-changing truth to accept.
One of Mat Kearney’s more recognized songs is titled, “Closer to Love.” Although not fully categorized as a Christian singer, his songs most certainly have a deeper message than what listeners might understand. In an interview with Relevant magazine about this particular song, Mat explains that it is “about dealing with the difficulties of a tough world, or maybe about the tough world we see our friends living in, or maybe it’s something about the growing we are all a part of-longing for something whole and perfect-like we are just passing through this place.”
If we are just passing through, I’d like to do so smiling and dancing my way along, in a cloud of gratitude for what is and excitement for what is to come. Thanks, Eli, for giving me a visual of how this life is meant to be lived.
Copyright 2020 Nicole Johnson