That's the seating capacity for the Peoria Civic Center.
We were waiting to get in, more than half way back, in a line that stretched around the entire block twice. And while we had a two hour wait before the doors opened, there were others who picked their spots earlier in the day who were in line many more hours than that.
Still, Crowder, For King and Country, Matthew West, and many more (for just $10) were totally worth the wait... if we could actually get in.
It was a huge relief when we made it through the doors. Whew!
The first act started and we found our seats shortly before it was announced that if you were saving a seat for someone still outside, they probably weren't going to get into the building.
They were almost completely full. 11,442 people.
The first artist was someone I had never heard of before. Unfortunately, in an arena like this, if you don't already know the lyrics to a song, especially a rap song, you are going to have a hard time following what is being said. He made a show of it and it was entertaining, but I have to admit I felt a little indifferent.
Then, when he stopped and told the crowd how important it was to know who they are created to be, and about how Jesus pulled him through when he lost his 1-year-old son and quoted Joseph Prince about fighting from victory instead of fighting for it, my heart pounded and tears sprang to my eyes. This guy that I'd never heard of, whose lyrics I couldn't understand or connect with, was saying exactly what someone there to see him needed to hear.
My indifference dissipated immediately. It was like I could suddenly feel the Holy Spirit moving for someone through what he said. I felt this incredible joy... and something else. A desire to be a part of that. I've felt it before and often shrugged it off, but it never goes away.
It whirled within me and came back several times that night. I wanted to be on that stage. Not for a paycheck, not so people will know my name, not for any other reason except to tell as many people as possible what God wants them to know... what He's done for me and what He wants to do for them.
The desire to stand in front of thousands of people and tell them who and what grace really is, makes no sense to me in some ways. I'm not even a great speaker! In my flesh, the thought of getting on that stage and speaking to people makes me tremble... but in my spirit, I can't help but grow excited about telling people what so many aren't hearing in their churches on Sunday mornings, the same things I wasn't hearing... the things that changed my view of God and life.
I don't know exactly what God's plans for me are, but there is a clear desire there.
Maybe the stage is a metaphor.
Maybe writing is my stage.
Maybe my business is my stage.
Maybe my blog is my stage.
Right now, Facebook is my main stage... even though my reach is much less than 11,442. It continues to grow and I can't be anything but excited about that.
I used to believe that the promise that God would give me the desires of my heart if I delighted in Him meant that if I did enough good stuff, God would give me whatever I wanted. Now I have a clearer understanding of that scripture.
When I delight myself in the Lord, He will put the desires He has for me in my heart. I will want what He wants... and sometimes I'll know because I'll think on those desires and say, "Why in a million years would I ever? I can't actually want to do that... yet I do!"
Maybe the stage is a symbol, but maybe it isn't.
Considering my life at this moment and the fact that four years ago today I was a hopeless, jobless, homeless wreck trying to keep up a positive facade. I don't have any doubt that there could be a non-metaphorical stage someday... and sooner than I can imagine.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.