God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9
So have you ever been confused before? Well, if we are being honest, the truth is yes, we all have. It just goes with the territory of being human. In fact I am sure it gets worse the older we get. More than once, I would wake up thinking it was Sunday and it was Monday. Gratefully I haven’t mixed the years up—yet.
Several years ago…or was it five or six…anyway, I had the opportunity to go and hear Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant in concert. They were going to be in Paducah and the tickets were—get ready—free. You know I love free. On top of that they were on row five or six. Just awesome seats. Judy had something going on and at first I thought, “Well, I really don’t want to go by myself.” But you know that free thing kept rolling around in my head and in the end it won out.
I was excited. I really enjoy music and these two artists were both very popular during my younger years. It was like a flash back Friday thing. As I drove I began listening to some of the songs that they sang in my mind. One of my absolute favorites was “The Great Adventure.” And that is where the confusion started. I think it is one of those times when you believe something strong enough it becomes real. Well, here we go.
I really can’t explain this, but in my mind I had the idea that Michael W. Smith was from Paducah and that was why such a pair of well-known artists were in town. You know, local boy does well, comes back and sings for the home folks. I was looking forward to hearing some of the hits that he had sung. Strangely, he never sang any of the songs I was expecting to hear including my favorite. Then, later in the evening he said something about being from West Virginia. I said, “What?” I was confused. And then throughout the whole evening he never sang what I thought were his greatest hits. I said, “What?”
Just about that time I realized that I had gotten my wires crossed, and indeed I was totally confused. You see it wasn’t Michael W. Smith who was from Paducah, it was Steven Curtis Chapman. And it wasn’t Michael W. Smith who sang, “The Great Adventure” it was Steven Curtis Chapman. And all those songs that I had been singing in my mind on the way to the concert—well, they were all hits from Steven Curtis Chapman, not Michael W. Smith. That would explain why the guy on the stage didn’t sing them that night—because he never sang them at all. You might ask, “Well, how did you get those two confused?” Well, I’m not sure but I think it had to do with the fact that we often believe what we want to believe.
Getting confused about who you are listening to at a concert can be an excuse for a good laugh and a decent story. It’s a whole different animal when it comes to the game of life and eternity. I am certain that too many people confuse religion and Jesus, and believe me they are not the same. I like to put it this way: Religion is man’s attempt to reach God–which never works and Jesus is God’s way to reach mankind–which never fails. Big difference, yes? One is all about works and the other is all about grace. One is all about ritual and rules and the other is all about mercy and forgiveness.
Paul, one of the writers in the Bible, said it best when he wrote, “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” And I don’t know about you but I am glad it doesn’t depend on how good I am because frankly, I’m just not that good. None of us are.
So anyway, I had a great time at the concert regardless of who was singing. Fortunately I wasn’t confused about Amy Grant and she sang several of her many hits. And Michael W. Smith is no pushover either. He has sold over 18 million albums and has had multiple #1 hits. And, of course, it was all free thanks to a friend. So there you go.
I couldn’t wait to call Judy and tell her about my little mistake. We both had a great laugh. But remember sometimes a little mistake can get you in a bunch of trouble. Make sure, make double sure, that you are counting on Jesus and not religion to get you to heaven. And as a matter of fact, make sure you are leaning on Him and not religion as you walk through these uncertain times. Make sure you are resting on Him and not on some counterfeit. And make double sure you know that HE has this.