When The Juilliard Orchestra was done with our impassioned performance of Mahler 3, the crowd of thousands in Avery Fischer Hall roared to their feet with thundering applause. We were so busy high-fiving our stand partners we barely noticed. Then, from up in the left balcony I saw a wave from a tall distinguished man, our private teacher, Jerome Ashby, Associate Principal of the New York Philharmonic. When he saw that he had our attention he began to clap his hands together in an exaggerated manner, looking us straight in the eye. When we saw the nods of our mentor, we were euphoric.
There is some applause that matters.
Do you know what it is like to do something that you usually do, but do it in front of someone whose opinion really means something? An example in my own life is leading a workshop at Juilliard while my teacher (who is the best workshop leader I have ever seen) looked on. It’s enough to make one tremble. It’s enough to make one really want to rise to the occasion.
For those of us who are followers of Christ, do we truly recognize that God is all-seeing? That he is all-knowing? Do we really allow it to sink in to the point that we make all decisions in the light of His onlooking presence? Leonard Ravenhill said it this way, “Oh that believers would become eternity-conscience. If we could live every moment of every day under the eye of God in light of the judgement seat, if we sold every article in light of the judgement seat, if we tithed all our possessions in light of the judgement seat…. then we would have a Holy Ghost revival that would shake this earth and that, in no time at all would liberate millions of precious souls.”
Too often, I think we are bound by this idea of pleasing an anonymous “they.” What will they think, we ask ourselves. This invisible crowd of naysayers has shut the mouth of one too many of us. We are made to be bold, to fiercely roar with the truth that is within us, but yet somehow we live cowering and feeble lives, a mere shadow of what we are capable of being. Or God forbid we do roar, but we are distracted and point our ferocity at the wrong things, looking for applause in the places that don’t truly matter.
It’s time to recognize there are commendations that hold significance and there are others that are seemingly important but in the end are like vapors. Here today, gone tomorrow. Leonard Ravenhill also said it this way. “If we displease God, does it matter whom we please? And if we please Him, does it matter whom we displease?”
In the end, when our teacher Jerome Ashby walked backstage after the concert, we (his students) made a bee-line for him. We cut through the crowds at the stage door waiting to congratulate us, because all we wanted to hear from him was, “Well done.” Funny enough, he didn’t say well done. He said, “Oh, to be young and fearless,” which I think was the perfect compliment for a college brass section who had just let it all hang out.
For a moment, just imagine yourself at the end of this life standing before the only one that matters. See yourself there waiting and longing to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we make every decision in our life with the truth that we will one day stand before his throne and give an account, we will live differently. Boldly. Unashamedly. If we live with this view we will stop shrinking to fit other’s man-sized vision of what we are and can be.
I don’t know about you, but I want the applause that matters when this is all said and done.
“How shall I feel at the judgement , if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me in full review, and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride?” – Dr. W.E. Sangster