by Kris Gnuse
I was not just upset; I was upset with myself for being upset.
After years of “maybe someday,” I had finally auditioned for worship choir. Kick your thoughts of robes and high sopranos to the curb. This group was cool.
I stepped onto the risers that first Sunday, trembly with nerves. My heart was full of prayers to open the heavens. My head was running harmonies, timing changes, and bridge lyrics. My pride, the tricky beast, was bumped by my spot in the second row.
Until that moment, I hadn’t known how much I wanted to be seen.
The leadership wisely put anchor people in the most visible places. When the spiritual climate of a thousand is at stake, holiness trumps height. My 5’2″ stature had always placed me front, if not also center. This group was different, arranged by experience and anointing.
The veterans in front of me topped my height by inches, even with the riser’s help. I could still open the heavens—through the small window between two heads and their nearly touching shoulders. My expectations had been widescreen. Bump.
How could my compass be so stuck on me when I was there specifically to point heavenward? I muscled my attitude back in line with devotion and invited the Lord’s presence into the morning.
It was glorious.
Moving to our mission country provided a similar bump to second row. We were shocked to hear children must be 18 years old to be left unattended. Our uber-responsible, babysitting-aged daughter could not legally watch her younger brothers here. A family four houses down was reported to child protective services for the latchkey schedule of their son. Our neighbor had to choose between employment and motherhood.
My window to serve went from panoramic to porthole.
Gently, the Lord drew me back from widescreen expectations of work projects alongside teams and cradling each child at the home. My ministry GPS reconfigured, abandoning the scenic route but not the destination. I point heavenward through food and words shared, prayers on my balcony, and databases current with ways to connect. I wrestle our daily routine in line with devotion through the frame of homeschooling and cross-cultural living.
I have learned anew the simple beauty of well-sung backup harmony.
It’s still glorious.
I will probably always want to be seen. More than I like to admit. Yet, this is holy ground here in the second row. The heavens are open.
Have you ever spent time in the second row? What was your experience like?