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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Front Row

November 29th, 2004

For the past few years I’ve worked a part-time job at the Team Shop in America West Arena. It’s where the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the Arena Football League’s Arizona Rattlers play. Like airports, it’s a venue that allows one to observe all sorts of human behavior and interaction. Anytime there are 10,000 plus people in a building there’s plenty to observe.

Several months ago I worked the Phil Collins concert. I was at my stand selling T-shirts and other merchandise when in the crush of people a little girl appeared in front of me on the other side of the table. There with her mother, the little one looked to be about 9 or 10 years old. Way too young to be at a concert, let alone know who Phil Collins is. But she seemed like a true fan. She was giggly excited. All bouncy and wiggly and grinning and trying to decide which T-shirt to buy.

In the middle of her decision she spun toward her Mom and blurted, “Isn’t this just incredible?!!!”

“Yes, this is incredible!”

I said to the little one, “You seem really glad to be here.”

“I so am!”

Not five minutes earlier they had been upstairs headed for their seats in the nose bleed section of the arena. You know, the “Section 223 – Row 50” seats where the band on stage looks like a musical flea circus.

A man stopped to talk with them as they were finding their way up the steep stairs to the upper row.

“Are those your seats up there?”

“Yes.”

“They don’t look like very good seats.”

“Yeah, well…it was the best we could do”, said the Mom.

Looking down at the little girl, the man asked, “Do you like Phil Collins?”

“Are you kidding?!!! I LOVE Phil Collins!”

Looking up toward the top row, the man said, “Those seats aren’t very good. I think you need better ones.”

He reached in his pocket and pulled out an envelope.

Two tickets.

Floor seats.

Front row.

Dead center.

The man was with the band.

It was the little girl’s front row smile that said “Thank you!” when I handed her the T-shirt. She pulled her Mother into the portico and down the stairs to the arena floor.

That would have been enough, wouldn’t it? To tell your friends at school that you were going to the Phil Collins concert only to come back the next day and say you went from last row to front row? And what street smart fourth grader on the playground would believe that? You’d have to show your ticket stub to prove it and how much fun would that be? To flash the evidence and say, “See? I told you!”

That would have been enough, right?

In the middle of the last song of the set, right before the encore, Phil Collins came off the stage down to the front row. He gave the little girl a big hug, a kiss on the cheek and held up the microphone so she could sing the chorus with him. There was her front row smile, big as life up on the JumboTron, for 10,000 people to see. Excited? She was absolutely out of her mind.

The kids on the playground will never believe this.

Sometimes, just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any better, it does.

We live in a broken world. Because we do, our view of the good stuff on the stage is often from Row 50 in Section 223. The irony is when we do get front row seats on this fallen planet, it’s usually to an ugly or painful event we’d rather not be close to. Chronic health problems, financial stress, strained relationships, or the loss of someone we love. Those seats are always front row, dead center.

We live in a broken world, but we’re loved by a gracious God. A God who promised a long time ago that He would never leave us or forsake us in this broken world. Which is to say that wherever our seats happen to be at any given life event, He promises to be right there with us.

That would be enough, right? To have the promise of God that we will never do life alone? That He will always be here to guide and encourage? To love and strengthen and comfort?

That would be enough, right?

But God goes one better. He promises that all His lavish, gracious love will never end. Not in this broken world, nor in His perfect world that’s yet to come. Someday, when the show’s over down here, we’ll be front row, dead center up there. An unobstructed, up close view of our Savior. The One who came down off His stage so we could sing along.

Sometimes, just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any better…

It does.

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-7