The First Chair Experience
The summer of my junior year was musically transformational. I had “half-heartedly” played trombone for 4 years. I really just liked being a part of the band. But that summer as I was going into band camp (real band camp) I was determined to improve. So I practiced all summer on my own and showed up for the first day of pre-camp with Director Jack Downs. This was a time of personal instruction if you desired, but was not mandatory. As I began playing the music, I remember the look of “pleasant surprise” on Jack’s face. He took my 2nd chair music, and replaced it with 1st chair. For those of you who are not band geeks, 1st-3rd denoted your level of ability. 1st was the more difficult piece. Within minutes I had proven my worthiness to receive the better placement. Jack was happy, and I was jumping up and down on the inside at my labored for accomplishment. I was no longer a half-hearted slacker but I was part of the 1st chair seating. Glory to God! I remember that day like it was yesterday, when in reality it was 43 years ago. 😳
1st CHAIR HAS IT’S PERKS!
I listened to an Apostolic preacher this morning preach a sermon on first, second and third chair people. That’s what brought back those fond memories of one of my greatest of high school experiences.
Joshua. Truly one of the finest of all band leaders. His band blew down the walls of Jericho and defeated an army. Take that football teams of America! Who’s the hero in that story? Just kidding. The hero was God. But there’s a lesson in those trumpeters. They got to experience that event with Joshua because he had proven his commitment to the home team when he and Caleb refused to be discouraged by the size of the enemy in the land of Canaanites, but rather believed that their God, He who they had first hand witnessed His deliverance, could win the battle against the giants that made the other ten spies feel like grasshoppers. And because of their faith and commitment, God allowed only them of the original wilderness wanderers to enter the Promise Land.
Yes! 1st chair has its perks!
Then there are the the second chair folks. They’re still apart of the band, but they’re playing a lesser role. They are not droppin’ walls. They’re cheering the trumpeters on to victory and doing their part to back them up. They’re important, but personally they are far from living their best life. They are far from committed. They’re simply participants.
2nd CHAIR HAS IT’S PARTICIPANTS
As the years of the nation of Israel went by, the children of God had extreme highs and lows. What was once a burning bush experience with Moses as the leader who brought the Ten Commandments from God off the mountain, became a religion of 613 laws. Laws that no one could keep, setting the people of God up for failure, and causing their relationship with the Lord to become one of participation, much like what we see in the world today. People going through the motions of church, but failing to have a real relationship with the Lord as He intends.
What was the difference between Joshua and Caleb, and the next generations? The more they became involved with religion and the less they became involved with God in a first hand relationship, they began distancing themselves from the experiences of the past. They were stories they told rather than times they experienced. They carried the banner saying they were God’s children, but nobody was blowin’ a horn and knockin’ down walls.
How true of todays church. While we will not likely witness an experience like that of the walls of Jericho, each of us in our lives could be experiencing a first hand relationship with God that would cause God to have that same pleasant look that Director Jack had. Jack loved that I had committed myself to the music and he rewarded me with a new position. God would like to do the same for His people today. But they’re content playing 2nd chair. Let someone else teach, preach, sing, testify, serve, etc. I’ll show up for church, and put my dollar in the plate and that will be enough. When I’m out side the church, I’ll say I’m a Christian, but I’ll not offend anyone by asking them if they are or telling them what it means to me. And that will be enough. Hello? It’s not enough. And it is so far short of what God wants for you.
3rd CHAIR HAS IT’S PART
Somewhere down the line someone coined the phrase “there are no small parts in a play, just small actors.” Meaning that every part is important. And it’s true. But in the roles of God’s children there is neither a small part or small person, and if one is content in standing in the shadow of the church and never growing in the grace of God, they’ll live a defeated, discontent life, and the generations to come will be as those generations of Judges 2:10 that says, “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”
The children of Israel went from experiencing God to not even knowing Him.
So which chair are you in today? I pray you are blowing that trumpet loud and strong and expecting a wall to fall for the cause of Christ. But if you are in chair two or three, I beg of you to examine your relationship with the Lord, and get int practice so that you’ll be called out to do more and to glorify the Lord more in these days of trial when people need to see God working in our lives.