Most Sundays, I am an exceedingly privileged man, in that I get to lead a congregation into the throne room of God. Often, I have thought about what that looks like but never taken the time to write it out and explain it. The images in my head certainly could never do it justice, so perhaps my hesitancy to write about it has been that I didn’t want to lessen the impact by trying to explain something that seemed beyond words.
This morning seemed different to me and the images seemed more alive and real than anything I have envisioned in the past. For that reason, I decided to jot it down and tell you about it.
What struck me at first was this idea that while I may be a worship leader, there were thousands of other worship leaders all doing the same thing at the same time. That thought brought humility as I realized that God has entrusted me, as he has entrusted thousands of others, to lead His people into His presence. It’s not that I am any more special than anyone else; instead it’s that this is the role that God has designated me to do in the broader scope of His redemptive work here on earth. I am fulfilling a purpose set about for my life by the creator of the universe and the awesome thing is that I get to do this.
So, let me explain what I imagined as I thought about leading worship each week. Imagine, for a moment, a church building hundreds of times bigger than anything here on earth. This building has very tall, arched top, double doors all the way around it, exposing a sanctuary in the center and in the center of the sanctuary is God, seated on His throne, overseeing all He has made. Leading to the sanctuary are thousands of roads, coming from every direction. On every road, coming from every direction, there are little groups of people, all on their way to the very large church building. Every group is singing and even though the songs being sung are all different, every group is in harmony with the next.
Even though there were literally millions of people all making their way to this large building, and you would think there would be massive lines out the doors, instead there was plenty of room for everyone to come inside. In fact, there was enough room that the crowd could triple in size and there would still be extra space. Each person in each group seemed to have a designated place in this massive building, but instead of it feeling like a huge gymnasium, I remember feeling as if I was in an intimate setting, praising God with the songs we had brought. There were all these people and yet I felt so close to God and the amazing thing was that everyone was experiencing God on that same personal intimate level, but we were all together, as one.
Backing up a little bit, I remember that as we were on one of the roads, making our way to the house of God, an angel appeared next to me and gave me instructions for once we were inside. It was kind of like being in a parade and having the route director let you know where to turn and who to follow and where to stand and so forth. I remember the angel being super encouraging, letting us know we were almost there and to lift our voices to God with spirits of thanksgiving. The angel didn’t seemed concerned about the exact songs we were singing or which key we were in or why I was using a capo for my guitar or any of the trivial things we get hung up on. Instead, the angel sang along with us, harmonizing with us and everyone else as we praised God with everything we had.
And that’s when it really hit me. The bible talks about how we will take nothing with us into the next life and of course I believe that is meant to refer to earthly things. But we will indeed travel into eternity with our voices and I was struck with the power of God that when we at last come into His presence, we will have our voices with which to praise Him. In fact, it is all we will have but what a joy it will be to know that our God has given us a voice to praise Him with and we will get to use it everyday!
So there we were, all of us, walking and singing on our way to meet with God. We walked alongside angels and everyone was simply joyful. There was no anxiety or worry about how we sounded, or if the words were being projected properly up on the screen or if a note was played wrong somewhere by someone, or any such thing. Those concerns simply did not exist. Instead, everyone had a singular focus; everyone was unified as if there were one voice.
And in the midst of everything that was going on, I became aware that my position as the worship leader of my small group was more of a privilege than I could have ever imagined. I was being entrusted with leading this group to this place filled with such joy. For a moment I felt as if I had been given the greatest back stage pass ever, where I got to personally hang out with the headliner but even better than that, I got to invite every person I knew to be there too! This image became seared into my brain of me introducing all these people to God, the single greatest headliner ever and then, at the end, He shook my hand and all I could say was ‘thank you’.
God has been pruning and shaping me for some time now and for a long time, I wondered what for. For the past several years I have been praying in earnest for God to use me but more importantly, I have asked God to humble me because I knew I needed that to happen before I could ever truly serve Him, instead of serving myself. In the last year, God has laid out His plans for my life and in doing so He has shown me the humility with which I am to approach this calling.
My place is to serve others that they might discover the joy that comes with being in His presence. My place is to lead people into a meeting with a Holy God who desires to know each of us on a personal level. My place is to introduce others to the mighty God, whose grace covers all. And my place, on a daily basis, is to thank God because I get to do this.