My wife and I were blessed with free tickets to see the band, Chicago, recently. We don’t get to many concerts so it was a special treat for us. Chicago has been around for nearly 50 years and in the last three decades, they’ve outlasted many other bands from the past as they continue touring and putting out new music from time to time. I was surprised by how many songs I knew in their two-hour concert.
Prior to the concert, I hadn’t thought much about their career success, the legacy they are leaving from their music, and what it must feel like to travel around the world performing before millions of fans that love your music.
But I went to bed that night unable to get a few of their songs out of my head. I’ll elaborate on this in a moment. It made me realize how important it is to read, speak, and repeatedly listen to things of eternal value such as the Word of God more frequently than we do anything else. The Lord was doing something in my heart, but I couldn’t pinpoint what would soon become obvious.
How many of the men in the band know Jesus Christ as their Lord? Also, when the world worships you, who do you worship? Do they have anyone higher than themselves to go to or do they not even feel the need to look to anything above themselves? People handle fame, wealth, and power differently. (Insert the band, artist, Hollywood actor, celebrity, professional sports team or athlete of your choice, etc. here.)
The next morning, I came across some Bible verses that were timely reminders for me including “keep yourselves from idols” as well as the instruction to set our hearts and minds “on things above, not on things on the earth.” (1 John 5:21, Colossians 3:2) These were batched in with a few other Scriptures I read such as:
“God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
I played drums for several decades and used to wonder what it would be like to have a career as a musician. Traveling the country as a drummer for three years in the 80s, I learned how addicting the fawning attention can be; the show, the autographs, screaming fans. I admit I used to idolize many professional bands, but as I watched Chicago perform the other night, I was content to be a spectator. They put on a quality concert and didn’t need gimmicks, special effects, or any shock factors to impress people. Road life is tough and these guys have been doing it for decades. It took me years, but I’m thankful I no longer idolize or covet the fame, success, or the possessions of others. It’s about time.
The record sales, concert revenue from ticket sales and merchandise, and song royalties must be amazing for successful bands. Looking at these things can cause us to feel discouraged or less significant, which is a good reminder to maintain a healthy view of money, remembering “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
Finally, it took me another day to process why I was feeling so emotional about the whole experience, particularly the songs that were foremost in my mind. You see, my two older sisters bought lots of music growing up including the early Chicago albums, so I became quite familiar with their songs. Then it hit me: the music was nostalgic and brought me back to good times when life seemed happier, less stressful, and the country was a drastically different place than it is today. Times sure have changed.
Does anyone really know what time it is?
This may sound strange, but Chicago’s music reminds me of how brief this life can be, and how much I miss some family members that have died including a sister, my Dad, uncles, and grandparents. I also miss those summer days at our cottage in the 70s with my whole family while my sisters blasted their music loud enough for people across the lake to hear. I used to long for the ‘old days’ and wish we could magically go back to the good times we remember. This however, is not a biblical way to think because for Christians, the only direction in which we should be looking is up as we learn from the past and press on to what God now has for us.
Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. Ecclesiastes 7:10
Our focus must now be on the task at hand: understanding our time is short and sharing the love of Christ with as many people as possible, including those we don’t know. God broke my heart for people I had never met – and this is a good thing.
Being in the front row during the concert was interesting. It seemed more personal as we made eye contact with several band members throughout the night. A few of the older members looked a bit tired toward the end, and I have a new respect for their perseverance. So now, I think about the guys in Chicago and, not knowing who or what their faith is in, I’m praying for their salvation.
A friend reminded me about how the early saints simply had Jesus and family; no social media, entertainment or other distractions that we have today, and they were so much more content, successfully impacting their world for Christ. For those of us that believe, are we disciplined in the use of our time, growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ so that we may point others to Him and speak the truth whenever possible? Is there anything else that really matters?
True success is only achieved by accepting God’s free gift of life in His presence. We all live forever; the question is on which side of eternity. I’d like to imagine the band Chicago as part of a massive orchestra worshiping the Lord in Heaven one day. I hope they all make the trip.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36