One moment we are standing up front, all prayed-up and honestly desiring to glorify the Lord alongside His people, eyes laser-focused on Jesus. We strike the first chord, sing a line, and look into the faces of our brothers and sisters with a heart to serve them. But then we notice that some of them seem sleepy; others are looking through their bulletin; a handful seem reluctant to leave off their conversations. We wonder, “Are they with us? Are they going to allow God to lead them to a place of worship today?” We square our shoulders and rise with determination to the task. “Well then, we will persevere and show them what it looks like. We will persuade them to join us!”
We survey the room, adopting an expression of what we hope comes across as invitational, and belt out the lyrics: “Come, Christians [oh please!], join to sing!” Our voice rises with hopefulness as we approach the chorus of the next song: “Sing with me!” We glance at the faces before us and ask ourselves, “Can’t they see that there is worship going on here?”
At this point, we enter a wilderness of no easy return. “Are they paying attention? . . . Why are his arms folded? . . . Why is her expression blank? . . . Are they noticing the thoughtful way the lyrical themes are woven together? . . . Did they catch the artful musical transition on that last song?”
Though we may be too spiritually sophisticated to insert the word “I” into our musings (“Can’t they see that I am worshiping?”; “Are they appreciating that I’ve put a lot of thought into this service?”), it is there, looming large and ugly if we are honest enough to admit it.
Sometimes the Spirit will stop us short in the middle of such thoughts. Gratefully, we shoot up a quick prayer: “Thank You for showing me I’ve gone off-track and for bringing me back to a heart of worship.” This freshly-humble heart may last until we miss the next entrance, and our thoughts are diverted once again. Our noble response to this misstep may be, “Please don’t let my mistakes distract anyone from worshiping,” but it’s a short hop off the path to, “I just totally made a fool of myself up here.” It can be hard to recover from that thought. . .