Don’t Give Up! (Between Donkeys and BellyAches)
One week it is one story: “What a great setlist!” “We are so thankful you are here at our church!” “That song you did for the invitation was perfect!” The comments could have you sailing for days. In fact, it is weeks like this that have your sails filled for days, right? These are the things that many worship leaders live for. Most worship leaders are the creative sort – and have a top love language of “Words of Affirmation” – so it is no wonder that these words sear into our hearts like a badge of honor.
but the next week comes…oh that next week…
“Why don’t you ever do any hymns?” “Don’t you think the music is too loud?” “You know the last guy/gal we had here used to do….” “Those new songs you are doing are causing us to lose attenders and tithes…” The hits just roll out of nowhere. Sometimes they come in rapid fire – and sometimes there is only one in the midst of a great day. The truth is – it only takes one bad comment to make us feel about an inch tall, right?
I’ve been there many times before. I’ve been ready to pack it all up before. Here’s what I want to give you, though, when you are faced with the same headache and heartache and want to hang your head down – I want to give you the same space to dwell in that a friend of mine was in when he was stuck between a donkey and some bellyache.
In Matthew 21, we find a story of Jesus and the disciples approaching Jerusalem via Bethphage. As they come closer, Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead to a village to get a donkey. Why? To fulfill a prophecy, of course. Zechariah had prophesied that “your King will come riding on a donkey”. So the disciples returned with a donkey…Jesus rides in…and the crowd goes wild.
The whole town laid down their cloaks on the dusty road. Others laid down branches from the trees. They all cheered the same thing: “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
These are people who knew that this was the KING. They knew that this was the chosen one. This was the son of GOD.
Now lets fast forward. We won’t fast forward as much as you think…because Jesus’ life did not continue on earth as long after this as you may think. You see – two days later…one of his disciples, Judas, bargains with the Sanhedrin to betray Him. Four days later, Jesus and His disciples eat the Last Supper together and Judas betrays Him. We are accustomed to hearing about the betrayal of Judas…but there is another large group of people who betrayed Jesus that occurred less than a week after His triumphant entry into the city. Five days later…those same people who were laying down their cloaks and tree branches and shouting “Hosanna” – were asked a single crucial question:
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
The answer is easily recalled to each of our lips…
Those were the SAME people! Do you recall the meaning of the word “Hosanna”? It means “Save Us!”. The SAME people who knew to cry out to Him “Save Us!” are now crying out in His presence “CRUCIFY HIM!”
…and what if He had just given up at that moment? What if He had thought for a moment that all of humanity wasn’t worth it because of the shouts of “crucify him!“? If He had taken His last breath and said “it is finished” and meant it to BE finished without finishing what was started…where would hope be? All because of what people said? Thought? Felt?
The truth is…there was a you…a me. A humanity to live on….that was worth dying for.
…and while we are by NO means Jesus….each week that we hear callous words…there will be SOMEONE that week who remains silent that NEEDED to hear your words – your song choices…and while you went home and hung your head at the sounds of shouts of “Crucify him!” someone else was back at the feet of Jesus resting at a donkey.
So go back week after week and lay down your cloak with them.
…and don’t give up.