I sit in the front row at our church. I wouldn’t normally pick this spot, but as the Pastor’s wife, I really enjoy the view. Each week, as I come in to find my place I’m only rarely surprised, because no one usually tries to steal “my seat”. In fact, as I think back over the years to all the churches I’ve been to, I remember the front row always being a little sparse. The Pastor is often found there before he goes up to preach or the worship leader would sit there with a few people from the band, but more times than not, it’s a wide-open space.
There are several things I like about the front row, but the most meaningful to me is that I’m not distracted there. I don’t have to watch people come in late, talk to each other during songs or lean over in response to what the pastor just said. There are no crying babies in the front row and certainly, no one leaves to go to the bathroom. It’s there that I get to be focused on literally one thing: worship.
I want my life to be more like the front row.
When I come to church, I try to be “ready”. My heart has usually been prepared already that morning and I crave the challenge that I’m about to receive. We don’t want to come frivolously. Now, it’s true that I get 4 little girls ages 1-7 ready for church and out the door by myself each week and this is nothing short of a small miracle. But, even on the rough mornings (which are many at this stage), we
repent pray together, turn on some uplifting music in the car and I prepare for God’s Word to speak into the hidden crevices of my heart or perhaps the glaringly obvious ones, like how I may have just spoken to one of my children.
I sing loud on the front row and I’m never really all that worried that anyone can hear me. Sometimes, I lift my hands in worship and I do so freely, because my heart is spilling over with love for the God I’m singing to. When God’s Word is preached, I hold onto every word, because my life depends on its truth. See, I desire a life that is unhindered, free of distractions and set apart wholly to God. I want to impact as many people as I can in the little bit of time I’ve been given on this earth and it’s only been in the past couple of years that all of this has become so crystal clear to me. I’ve certainly wasted time. I just don’t want to waste anymore.
I want to live my life “on the front row”.
But then, church is over and I begin to pick up all of my children from their respective classes. It’s here that my heart is sincerely tested. Hunger pains, cause one to act like a wild animal, someone has to go to the bathroom, and we lost a sweater or a hair bow or a coat. Guaranteed. My blissful moments of soaking in the truth and worshiping like no one, but God, was watching are now over and it’s time to put into action all the great things God’s been teaching me. Oh, but it’s so hard and I so often fail! And honestly, this “scene” is not much different from my day-to-day life.
Each day we revisit some of the same issues, not only with our children, but also with ourselves. There are little victories, but there is a lot that happens in between. Fatigue sets in and we want to just throw discipline and consistency out the window and then I long for the front row, where the distractions are so minimal and the worship is so focused.
I’ve realized that “front row” living is a heart choice, because it’s certainly not a physical reality. I was never called to live my life inside the walls of a church or in our case, a movie theater, where our church is meeting until we can build a permanent facility. We were called to reach those people who God places in our lives as we “live and move and have our being”. It’s going back to the hard places with my children or loved ones, that feel more like “work” at times, than an overflow of my ever-loving heart. But it’s right to do and God called us not, to a life of constant satisfaction and self-fulfillment, but to bear one-another’s burdens and carry the truth of God like a torch in an otherwise dark and hard-hearted world. We have to make the choice to not become so easily distracted. People and finances and schooling and jobs and exercise and you just fill in the blank, can distract us from worshiping God and bringing Him glory in this life if we don’t live intentionally focused on Him.
So will you join me? There’s plenty of room “on the front row”.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ Acts 17:24-28