When I walked in the door for some of my first childhood concerts, I picked my seat carefully with one objective in mind: the best view of the violin section. Somehow, though, I still knew that no seat in that auditorium was the best seat, for you couldn't physically feel the music from that vantage point. Since I surely never dreamed I had a chance of sitting up on stage with the music-makers, though, I was satisfied with my spot in the audience.
Now I play in concerts several times a year, and a few weeks ago when the lights were dimming and the hush was falling, I realized with the crescendo of the drum roll that I have the best seat in the house! Joining me in that position are nearly fifty musicians, our conductor, and one very special person each concert who gets to sit in our "Merry Chair." With sponsorship, an audience member is ushered on stage to sit in this specially placed chair in the midst of the symphony, and my ten year old self is intensely jealous!
For believe me, there is a mammoth difference between staring down the bell of the trumpet as it bellows at you versus living amongst the music while it swirls around you. And the leap from sitting amongst the music to being a music-maker is even more indescribable! My violin vibrates with the ring of the cymbal crash behind me, white rosin dust puffs in clouds at our first bow strokes, and fifty people are swaying as one. Nowhere else do I get the same pull of tension and delight that comes from creating and enjoying at the same time.
So where are you sitting in the symphony God conducts?
Are you in the audience? Appreciating God's mighty master hand as He works in the lives of others in the world? Looking to the "professionals"--the missionaries, pastors, and leaders--to make great music, and being comfortable in your position of observer.
Or maybe you're in the Merry Chair. You're rubbing elbows with those through whom God is working. You even look like you could be making music. You're in the midst of the music-makers, but there is one key difference between you and them: you're not being led by the Conductor.
So why not be a music-maker? Don't just casually observe what God is doing, and don't just look like a music-maker to satisfy other's expectations. Own the instrument God has given you. Tune it well and play under the Master Conductor! Be led by Him, and Him alone, through all the time changes and key changes and grand pauses that could trip you up. He knows what happens after that page turn better than anyone.
And while I still stand by the statement that where you sit matters, know that once you're a music-maker, it doesn't really matter anymore. Whether you are the soloist or the violinist nearly hidden by the stage curtain, as long as the music you make is led by the Conductor, it is important, and it is beautiful.
“Abandoned cinema 1962,” © 2010 phill.d, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.