Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to see the documentary, “20 Steps From Stardom” by Morgan Neville. It chronicled the spirit and lived experience of the “background singer.” The tagline for the film states, “Meet the unsung heroes behind the greatest music of our time.” The film was exceptional. It was an amazing collage of gifted and talented artists featuring, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Judith Hill, Claudia Lennear, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega and the Waters. As I watched their reality unfold, it might have been justifiable for them to respond like much of the reality television we see on the evening lineup now. For indeed they were stars, but for various reasons, conditions, circumstances or even chance, their lives took a different trajectory as opposed to the one they were standing so close to. I left the film feeling a keen sense of appreciation for the dedication and selflessness of the background experience. And of course, just like a good background singer does when s/he belts out the crucible of song, the philosophy of the background has continued to play in my mind since the credits rolled on the film.
Do you ever feel like you are a part of the background experience in your own production? I mean you have followed everything you’re instructed to do and yet you don’t get your big break? In fact you dare to process in your mind (and occasionally aloud to a really close friend) that others adjacent to you are receiving recognition and opportunity for things you are much more talented and dare I say deserving of? Have I come to your neighborhood yet? How about this one; you are intentionally looked over for something that appears to be designed with you in mind. You don’t receive the opportunity, someone else does, but to make matters worse, you are expected to train the person on what you already know. Yes, I believe I’m at your address. Want to know why I’m so certain? Well, its because I live next door! But I heard Jesus is passing by, so let’s go outside for the block party and see what the Holy Spirit has determined for our consideration.
While feeling as though we are playing background, make no mistake. The person on the mic is in full control and most importantly concerned with our destiny. As we invite our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ to be lead, he continues to orchestrate the beautiful symphony of of our life. While in the background we must remain in a perpetual state of preparation. We never know exactly when, where and how we will be called upon. There is an incredible reserve of resilience we must possess in the background. In the shadows, our spirit must continue to shine and our joy expressive in the dark spaces. As likened unto John, Jesus’ cousin in the background in John 1:8, “we are not that Light, but sent to bare witness of that Light.” In the background, in the places where we feel intolerant, we must hold strong to our faith, cultivating it with the hope that we’ve been promised by our Creator.
That promise may not always align with our expectation; but it will always seamlessly align for our good. Psalm 84:11 backgrounds its way to this belief by singing, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory:no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” When things don’t appear to go as we prefer, we must continue in our doo wop until God says otherwise. We must compel ourselves to sing praises unto God, lest we are tempted to initially harmonize then sing lead for Satan. The enemy of our soul keeps a mic hot for anyone at anytime. Careful though, that gig has a predestined path.
I love the artistry of God. As lead in our lives he orchestrates our greatness. As we faithfully proclaim his faithfulness and his love, he gradually makes space for a beautiful duet. As we entangle ourselves with him and remain humble through the transition, he allows our gifts to make room and ushers us into the presence of the great (Proverbs 18:16). In other words, he allows an evolution of sorts whereby we assume the mic and he becomes our background, our force, our melody of life. He is our support, our essence, our foundation and our memorable sustainability. If we stick to the plan, we won’t desire to lead anything without him. He becomes so much a part of our project that we won’t desire a solo experience. In other words Jesus becomes a permanent component of our stage of life. Now that’s a lasting finish.