Two nights of music.
Two completely different experiences.
One profound epiphany.

Night #1: Justin Timberlake concert.

Concert Picture

  • 15,000 people.
  • Sold-out crowd.
  • Front row seats at Rexall Place.
  • Impeccable vocals.
  • Stellar harmonies.
  • Mega watt sound system.
  • 1 bass player.
  • 2 guitarists.
  • 1 acoustic.
  • 1 strings player.
  • 1 drummer.
  • 1 percussionist.
  • 4 back up singers.
  • 5 back up dancers.
  • A whole orchestral section.
  • And the leading man himself.

And then there was…

  • Cool & trendy fashion.
  • Matching outfits.
  • Wardrobe changes.
  • Glitzy stage props.
  • Slick dance movement.
  • Expensive equipment.
  • Illuminated lighting.
  • Ecstatic vibe.
  • Enthusiastic atmosphere.
  • Girls loudly screaming, “We love you JT.” Oh brother.
  • And the never-ending steady stream of iPhone cameras flickering on and off.

Perfection.

As I was driving home that night, the conversation in my head went a little something like this:

What must it be like to be Justin Timberlake? What a different life he leads – every day, all day, night after night. No matter where he goes or what he does, he’s watched, followed, adored and idolized. It must feel unnerving. It must be a strange mix of emotion to know that people look upon your life with such adoration. They envy your position, they place you on a pedestal, and they treat you different because the glitz and glam of your existence is automatically associated with having it all together. That’s a lot of stress and pressure to deal with.

So I found myself praying for Justin Timberlake.

  • I prayed that he would wake up every morning and appreciate the enormous platform of influence he’s been given.
  • I prayed that he would wake up every morning and appreciate, with deep gratitude, the life he has been blessed with.
  • I prayed that he would use his influence wisely.
  • I prayed that he would use his influence for good.
  • I prayed that he wouldn’t squander his lot in life by thinking the only thing to accumulate is worldly success defined by achievement, status, fortune and fame.
  • I prayed that he would mindfully acknowledge the many faces that take front row seats to observe his life, and that he would prayerfully do all he can to make whatever difference he can to make the world a better place.

Night #2: Impromptu sing-song with a group of no-names.

  • 10 people – 5 street girls, 5 workers.
  • Drugged-out crowd.
  • Back row seat of a Salvation Army van.
  • Questionable vocals.
  • Tone def harmonies.
  • No sound system.
  • 1 acoustic.

And then there was…

  • Warm & layered fashion.
  • Mixed-matched outfits.
  • Wardrobe changes – once they saw the bags of used clothes they were allowed to help themselves too.
  • Tipsy body movement.
  • Functioning equipment.
  • Dim lighting.
  • Depressed vibe.
  • Defeated atmosphere.
  • Girls silently crying, “There is no love.”
  • And the never-ending steady stream of cigarette lighters flickering on and off.

Imperfection. And yet…

It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced.

As I was driving home that night, the conversation in my head went a little something like this:

What must it be like to be those girls? What a different life they lead – every day, all day, night after night. No matter where they go or what they do, they’re watched, judged, forgotten and left to fend for themselves. It must feel hopeless. It must be a strange mix of emotion to know that people look upon your life with such sadness. They don’t envy your position, they place you at the very bottom of the totem pole, and they treat you different because the addictions and misfortunes of your existence are automatically associated with having nothing to offer. That’s a lot of shame and disgrace to deal with.

But those beautiful girls are just as important as Justin Timberlake… if not more… so I found myself praying for each and every one of them.

But then this crazy cool and awesomely amazing thing happened to reshape the whole process of my thinking… and I promise I’m not even kidding…

Justin Timberlake started playing on the radio at the exact time I was thinking about how different his concert was from the impromptu hymn sing I had just had. And that’s when I had me a big ol’ life epiphany!

To those girls, my life is just as amazing as Justin Timberlake’s!

My house, my family, my job, my friends, my health, my faith, my hope, my security, my safety, my support system, my opportunities, my freedom… everything about me, ME! – little ol’ me – and the life I live, makes me rich. To them, I am rich. To them, I am blessed. To them, I have everything there is to ever possibly want out of this life. To them, I have the best. life. EVER! And before I even realized what was happening, I started sputtering out prayers for myself.

  • I prayed that I would wake up every morning and appreciate the enormous platform of influence I’ve been given.
  • I prayed that I would wake up every morning and appreciate, with deep gratitude, the life I have been blessed with.
  • I prayed that I would use my influence wisely.
  • I prayed that I would use my influence for good.
  • I prayed that I wouldn’t squander my lot in life by thinking the only thing to accumulate is worldly success defined by achievement, status, fortune and fame.
  • I prayed that I would mindfully acknowledge the many faces that take front row seats to observe my life – my kids, my husband, my friends, my family, my neighbours, those beautiful girls I had met on the van – and that I would prayerfully do all I can to make whatever difference I can to make the world a better place.

Friends, it’s easy to think the rich and the famous are the only ones with all the privilege, all the power, and all the influence. It’s easy to fall prey to the hype of culture and think we are only valuable if we project high status, wealthy position and a charismatic personality. But let us not be sucked into the lies. Last Monday night I met 5 wonderful ladies who could have cared less what I do for a living, how much money I make, what the square footage of my home is, or if my vehicle is a base model or a platinum edition. Heck, they didn’t even ask me my name. All they wanted from me was a smile, a hot cup of coffee, and a comfortable place to warm up.

Everyday we are presented with countless opportunities to love the forgotten, care for the broken-hearted, look after the widows and protect the orphans in their distress. We don’t need to be standing on an expensive stage delivering a perfect performance to a sold-out crowd to do that.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

~James 1:27 
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With a million things to do and not enough hours in the day to get it done, it's easy to zone out and slip into autopilot in order to survive. But perhaps life is not about adding more things to your already lengthy list, but rather, about pausing in the midst of it all to consider if what you're doing is really important.