As my friend, Wendy, and I were waiting with the rest of the choir to go on stage, I noticed something. Her choir dress was black and mine was burgundy. And our folders were just the opposite–hers was burgundy and mine was black. “Let’s switch!” I said. So we could match. (I was in high school at the time… just in case you were wondering.)

So we switched just as it was time to walk in. I hugged Wendy’s folder to myself and walked onto the stage with all the poise my sixteen-year-old self could muster. Our director had been very clear about how to behave on stage. But just as I found my place on the riser, all of the music spilled out of the bottom Wendy’s folder. I had been holding it upside down! The sheets of music shot out all over the risers and down onto the stage.

I froze. What should I do? Bend down to gather it up? Ignore it and look straight ahead? I glanced at the judges, who were smirking. Then I looked at our director. If ever a man looked like smoke was coming out of his ears, it was now. (And maybe then, too.)

As the other singers filed in, various kids started stooping to pick up my music. Some stepped out of line to gather the pieces on the stage. Others passed it down the row to me. It was far from the orderly entrance that our director had drilled us on. It was a mess.

Sometimes, my perspective of life is like this stage. God is the director, and I am supposed to follow his directions and bring a proud smile to his face with my poise. But then my heart spills its imperfections onto the stage, and the onlooking world smirks and gives God a less than glowing review. I’ve made a mess, and God has smoke coming out of his ears. He’s disappointed and frustrated with me… again.

But this is all backward. Yes, God is the director–blending my voice with others who have been chosen to tell of his greatness. And yes, when I obey him, I do bring glory to his great name. But the world is not His judge. God has no judge. And there is no well-rehearsed performance. There is only God displaying his glory through ordinary people, on ordinary days, for all the world to see. And when I spill out my imperfections, they get to see that, too. But they also get to see God kindly lift me up and hand me my music again.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, 
my glory and the lifter of my head.
Psalm 3:3
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me… Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
I Timothy 1:16

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