This weekend was the Sweet Adelines regional competition in Winston-Salem, NC. We have been practicing our 2 contest songs all year. I have gone to 3 all day Saturday coaching sessions. I had a personal voice lesson from one of the coaches. I prepared my new costume shirt. I got a manicure and painted my toenails red. I have listened to the songs in the car, in bed, and throughout the day. I even made tapes to send to my section leader so she could tell me what I needed to improve. I paid for my ticket, made a reservation at the hotel, bought a new curling iron. I was READY!
But when the chorus stood on the stage in front of the judges, I was sitting in the audience. They poured it all out, singing with passion and enthusiasm, remembering everything we had practiced, and it was wonderful. And the judges recognized their excellence and awarded them first place in the AA Division, and 2nd place overall, with the highest score we had ever achieved. And at the end, they all received the coveted medals to wear for the next year.
The reason I was not on stage was a good one -- I contracted pinkeye from one of my kindergarten students, and I had laryngitis that was made worse by trying to continue teaching even when I had no voice. I thought about going on stage anyway, but I wouldn't have been able to wear my false eyelashes, and my voice was terrible. I was afraid I would squeak and cause my chorus to lose points -- or give someone else pinkeye.
So, when they all got medals, I was a little envious. I had done all the work, prepared,and practiced. But when it came down to it, I was not on that stage, in front of the judges. I had gone through all the motions, but I didn't take the final step.
As I was sitting in church this morning, I started thinking about people who have gone through the motions spiritually. They may come to church faithfully-- or watch it on TV. They might teach a class or work in the nursery or sing in the choir. They might put Bible verses on Facebook or even go on mission trips. But if they have not taken the final step of surrendering their lives to Jesus, I'm afraid they will be like me. When the crowns are handed out in Heaven, they will not get one. They won't be at the celebration at all, because there is only one way, and all the church work you do means nothing when the judge looks at your life. There an old song that we used to sing at the little church I attended as a child in WV-- "when the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there." As I watched my friends put on their medals, I was glad to remember that I will be ready when I stand before God -- I will not miss out when the crowns are passed out! The blood of Christ has redeemed me, nothing good I have done. Oh, what a Savior!