Gotta be all in to get the meaning…

Seven Swans-a-Swimming at Shadrack’s

I have a funny story to tell on Clay and myself. Confession is good for the soul, so here’s mine. Yesterday my cousin sent me a message on Facebook that we should go to Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland just out of Sevierville, TN while we’re here on vacation because they have a beautiful light show. I googled it, found on the website that it is a drive-thru light show and the cost is $20 per car. We decided to check it out. So we enjoyed a delicious dinner from Outback (taking advantage of a gift card – you know, it’s the frugal Milliken-mindset way of doing things), and drove to the outskirts of Sevierville – just across from Bass Pro Shop. You could see the beautiful lights from a half mile away. WOW! was our initial reaction. But as we got close it appeared to be not so impressive – well, not for $20 anyway. It appeared to be a big ole cluster of blinking lights with no rhyme or reason. So instead of sinking $20 we grabbed an Oreo McFlurry and parked in the Cracker Barrel parking lot that adjoins the light display. We had noticed on a sign at the entrance that the display was put on by B92.5 so we tuned our radio there and settled in to stare at the blinking lights from afar. We were impressed with how vast the display spread for sure – as far as you could see straight ahead and to the right were blinking lights. We had been listening to the Christmas carols on the radio for a few minutes, enjoying the “moment,” when Carol of the Bells began to play. I started tapping to the beat, and as I did I noticed way off in the distance that the lights in the shape of a huge tree were blinking to the beat that I was tapping. I didn’t say anything to Clay at first until I was sure it wasn’t an illusion, and then I exclaimed, “Honey! The lights off in the distance are blinking to the music!” He cut his eyes at me with a sympathetic, “Bless her little blonde heart” look, but kept his cynical comment to himself. I watched him. I knew what he was thinking. But instead of saying anything, he turned his focus to the display at the back of the property and behold – I was right! The entire display of lights in the back was dancing to the beat of the music! It didn’t take long for conviction to set in. Were we going to watch this from afar, taking advantage of a beautiful display for free, or were we going to pay the $20 and get slap dab in the middle of the action? We chose to do the right thing – and we’re so glad we did! Come to find out, as you enter the property there is a cluster of lights spelling “The 12 Days of Christmas” and that’s the display that winds through the front section that we had been watching. Those “random blinking lights” were blinking not to the beat of the music, but rather a display of pipers piping and drummers drumming and ladies dancing and maids a-milking – and it was beautiful. From the Cracker Barrel parking lot we had no idea what we were looking at. Then the entire back section of the property was a massive display of GORGEOUS lights that danced to the beat of the Christmas carols playing on the radio – songs like Hallelujah Chorus, Nutcracker, Christmas with a Capital C. The show was phenomenal! We could not get enough of it. We both fought back tears as the lights slowly danced to Silent Night. Had we sat in the Cracker Barrel parking lot and watched the blinking lights from afar, we would have missed a tremendous display and a tremendous blessing. The entire experience was awesome and we’re still talking about it this morning. It was amazing what we found once we were all in!

Do we treat the Christian experience the same way? Do we watch from afar and hope to get the gist of a relationship with Christ by tapping in from a distance? Do we think we’re getting all we need by halfway committing, all the while enjoying our McFlurries without getting involved? It is absolutely impossible to get the true message, the true meaning, the full experience of a personal relationship with Jesus without going all in. We’ve gotta get close to get the message. There’s so much to know about the Lord, but it has to be a personal experience. Otherwise all we see are the blinking lights – we can’t recognize from a distance that they’re blinking into the shape of a swan or a drum or a partridge in a pear tree. There’s a purpose for everything the Lord asks us to walk through, it’s all taking shape to make a beautiful display of His glory. But we’re gonna miss it if we decide the cost is too much. We’re gonna miss out if we decide the commitment is too great, or too time-consuming, or not necessary. We’re gonna miss it if we choose to eat our McFlurries from afar and not pay the price. Gotta be all in to get the meaning.

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:4-6).

Hope

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