There are times when we can feel invisible. People pass us by and we are but furniture—our words ambient noise masked by the busy cacophony of our own industry. In my work, I have produced, led and created experiences for crowds of thousands. I have done this since I was young. Being in front of people would rattle me, but that feeling wore off long ago. The grandeur of even a well-produced church Easter celebration where people are in wonder can be deafened by the inoculation of years of such effort. It is not cynicism where belief sours. It is being lost. It is feeling unseen.
Those of us who polish the tools of worship in the temple have to see the wonder of God sometimes in the small. After the earthquake and wind, we hope for a still small voice to utter something to us. When you work a worship service, you don’t do it for you. “Of course,” you might say. But, when you go to church to worship you usually only have to get past the parking mess and kid check-in to find a seat. This weekend service is designed for you to help you worship. That is what we in worship leadership and production do. We set the table. And, sometimes we don’t get to eat.
So, how do we who do this kind of work recharge? If you have a couple Sundays off here and there it may not be enough, right? Well, God does indeed take care of his table-setters. He sees us, too. The suffering of what we give up—and our families—blesses us with a tiny glimpse of the idea of a sacrifice of praise. While some come to “soak” in worship, we bring the hose! We feel the spray, at the very least. When things are the best, we see people moved, changed and feel connected in the flow of it most of the time. But, not all of the time. We get tired. Right? Be honest.
After working eight services and a long week and months of prep, this past Easter’s weekend I had a moment of the sun on our church patio. I felt alone. The crowds were all but gone. But, I wasn’t alone in reality. I secured a team of people God had around me to share in the work. My family supported me through it all, too. But, still, we are human. I felt a bit spent. “God, do you see me?” “Yes,” he said. But, without words the message appeared.
Out of nowhere, a 9-year-old walked up to me and began to stare me in the eyes. His long stringy blonde locks complemented that smell that boys get after running and playing. It’s pungent, but in this case pleasing because it reminded me of riding my bikes with friends and long summer days of play. The boy was chewing a mouthful of candy nonstop. No expression or word, he simply stood there chewing and staring right up at me—and my mustache.
I noticed that he was struggling with his hand in his pocket. He was trying to get an object out as he looked me in the eyes. He chewed and chewed while reaching in his pocket. This seemed to last an awkwardly long time. Finally, out of his pocket he clumsily popped out a purple, plastic Easter egg. The boy extended his arm straight out toward me. As he held this gift, I paused in a moment of wonder. I took it and he left, disappearing completely from site. Was this boy even real?
No words or chance to thank the boy were to be granted me. The sun shined a bit brighter. My heart felt a bit fuller. All the hard work now made me actually smile wide into the sun. I am not alone. By far, I am not alone. In that moment God spoke to me through the actions—and smell—of this child. He sees me. God sees me. And, be assured. God sees you, too.