“A SIMPLE SYMBOL OF CYMBALS”
May 23, 2008
The maestro mounts the podium, raises his baton, and with polished flourish issues the downbeat. Instantly there is an explosion of glorious sound as the orchestra springs to life in a flurry of activity. Fingers dance with passionate ecstasy, heads bob and weave, bows fly in synchronized frenzy, strings vibrate, valves jump up and down, slides push forward and retreat, sticks oscillate furiously, and bodies sway in rhythm to the music. All is in motion—all, that is, except one.
One lonely musician stands at attention in the back of the orchestra, motionless, poised for action, deep in concentration. He is the cymbal player and his inactivity is lost amongst the sound and fury of a hundred other musicians. While violinists glide, he waits. While trumpets blare, he counts. While flutists flutter, he listens. His is an instrument which, for better or worse, will be heard. If he miscounts and plays too soon, the performance of all will be ruined. If he waits too long the moment will be lost and the quality of the entire symphony will suffer. So, in silent humility, he waits…and listens…and counts.
But most of all, he watches. His eyes are fixed upon the maestro. He trusts not himself, nor leans upon his own ability to count. His faith rests totally in the maestro so, silently and with intense concentration, he waits and watches for his cue. At last he sees the maestro look straight at him and nod. With absolute confidence he swings into action. The cymbals crash together; the auditorium is filled with their sound…and the maestro smiles.
When the music stops, the audience roars their approval. The conductor bows, the concertmaster bows, the soloists bow, but the cymbal player merely stands along with a hundred other musicians. Rarely, if ever, is he given any special recognition. The critics only notice if he makes a mistake. Does he disdain his anonymity? Not at all! He is simply lost in the wonder of being counted worthy to play in the orchestra. He finds great joy in partnering with others to create such glorious sounds. And, he lives for seeing the maestro smile.
At the Spirit’s command the church springs to life in a flurry of activity. The choir sings, the band plays, the pastor expounds, the teachers exhort; all seem to be in motion. All, that is, except for those who wait behind the scenes, deep in concentration, poised for action. They are the church’s “cymbal players.” While musicians perform they sit at the sound booth fine-tuning the microphones. While pastors preach they take care of fussy children. Hours earlier they have typed, copied, and folded the worship programs. Long before the worship service began they were unlocking doors, turning on lights and turning up the heat. And long after the last worshipper leaves they are cleaning up what others have soiled.
In silent humility they wait, alertly they listen, and expectantly they count the hours since they have last been able to serve. But most of all, they watch. Their eyes are fixed upon their heavenly Maestro. Theirs is a service which, for better or worse, will make a difference. If they move at the wrong time, the ministry of many others will be spoiled. If they fail to act, an opportunity will be lost and the quality of the church’s entire ministry will suffer. They trust not themselves, nor lean upon their own abilities to know when to act. Their faith rests totally in the Maestro so, silently and with intense concentration, they wait and watch for their cue. When at last the Spirit nods, they swing into action. The church is filled with their joyful service…and the Maestro smiles.
When the worship service is over, the “soloists” are congratulated. Pastors are praised, worship leaders are applauded, and teachers are showered with thanksgiving. Rarely, if ever, are those who labor behind the scenes (church “cymbal players”) given any special recognition. The critics only notice if they make a mistake. Do they disdain their anonymity? Not at all! They are simply lost in the wonder of being counted worthy to serve. They find great joy in partnering with others to create such glorious ministries. And, they love to see the Maestro smile.
Somehow in the church we have this all completely backwards, totally opposite from what the Maestro has intended. Those who serve in the spotlight seem to get an overabundance of glory while the “cymbal players” faithfully carry out their simple ministries in near total obscurity. “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:26-28. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…” – Philippians 2:5-7.
Whether in mega churches or small community congregations, impressive cathedrals or simple home gatherings, our Lord has made it clear who He truly values. The humble, hard-working, behind-the-scenes, simple servant will get His highest praise, and His greatest reward! “…Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1Corinthians 15:58. Oh, yes…there is one more motivation for church “cymbal players.” They know the day is coming when they will step onto a higher stage and all heaven, including the Maestro Himself, will present them with a long overdue, standing ovation! Bravo! “Well done, good and faithful servant!” – Matthew 25:21.
Bill, a child of God and a simple cymbal player in His orchestra