Do you remember your first concert? I do. It was The Temptations and The Four Tops. While that’s not the concert that’s been on my mind lately, it’s still memorable. Seriously, I grew up in a Motown household, not a rock’n’roll one, so that impacted the kinds of music I’ve gravitated toward. But I digress… I want to talk about the time I went to see PFR (Pray for Rain) and how I saw something completely unexpected instead.
The concert was in Grove Avenue Baptist Church, a church that locally has a reputation for providing its services via television each Sunday and putting on pageants that people travel from all over to come see. But on one fall night in 1995, the church was set up for a concert by PFR, a band I’d never heard of but which college students I knew were super excited about. I don’t ever remember buying a ticket, but I agreed to go and off we went to see PFR – a band that would fade from the national consciousness within years, if not months, of that concert.
We arrived early, settled in, and heard an up-and-coming band who was getting paid pennies on the dollar compared to PFR settle into their set, playing songs that resonated through the building, including one that would actually merit airtime on mainstream radio and climb to No. 37 on Billboard’s Hot 100. After Grove Avenue, they’d open for acts like Sting and Matchbox 20, extending their stage life for another twenty years.
The band was Jars of Clay, and their crossover hit was “Flood.”
“Rain rain on my face
It hasn’t stopped
Raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become
One with the mud.”
“But if I can’t swim after 40 days
And my mind is crushed
By the crashing waves
Lift me up so high
That I cannot fall
Lift me up
Lift me up when I’m falling
Lift me up I’m weak and I’m dying
Lift me up I need you to hold me
Lift me up and keep me from drowning again.”
The song still comes back to me all these years later – a reminder that no matter what we feel stuck in or by, that God comes through like God has so many more times. It’s a song, a poem, a prayer, and a powerful cry to God as the only source of our strength.
It’s also a reminder that what you go expecting isn’t always what you get. Maybe Forrest Gump’s mother was right.
2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Rev. Jacob Sahms