An Audience of One

It was one of those super cold, end of January mornings with a wind chill factor in the single digits, but at the same time it was bright and sunny. It was bone chilling cold, but a beautiful day. I was outside and heard the beautiful sounds of a songbird. I looked up and all around trying to find where the music was coming from and there in a totally leafless tree was one Redbird, a beautiful Cardinal singing its heart out. I stood there in the cold winter morning watching and listening. I looked around and no one else in the neighborhood was out. I even looked around to see if there were other Redbirds in the area. There was not another sound, and I did not see another bird of any kind. He kept on singing and he wasn’t just making sounds; he was enthusiastic and was filling the air with some kind of exciting praise. Then I realized that I was an audience of one.

And so I stood there in the cold with my heart warmed by this one magnificent bird. The longer that I stood there and listened as the bird continued to sing the more I was blessed. The more I was blessed the more lessons I gleaned from what was happening not only to my ears but to my heart. Several times as there was a pause maybe for the songbird to catch a breath or to shift gears, I wanted to say thank you. But I thought that it would probably scare the Redbird away. I did not want to do that so I just listened, thought and remembered how many things God places around us in order to bless us and teach us.

The wise Solomon said, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise” (Prov. 6:6). Jesus said, “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent” (Matt. 10:29). It was our Lord who also pointed out that we needed to look at the lilies of the field. “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matt. 6:28-29). I continued to listen and learn.

One of the lessons that came to my heart is that you never know when your song or your service will be helpful to someone’s life and maybe even a life changing moment for someone. You are not aware of it, but an audience of one is watching from a distance. Jesus, the Master Teacher, was always alert and watching for that audience of one. Even in a huge crowd swirling around Him, He saw one man up in a Sycamore tree, and the whole moment was focused on him. Jesus saw one lady coming to the well to draw water at mid-day and recognized that this was the moment for her to have an experience with the living Savior.

The Book of Acts tells us that Philip was keenly aware of one person as he walked along in the desert area of Gaza. He heard a chariot coming and saw a man reading from the prophet Isaiah. It was time to share the song of the Savior with him.

How often do we get caught up in the crowds that may come to see us sing, preach or teach and lose sight of the one person that you may not recognize or even know who God has brought there to be an audience of one for the message that you are sharing and the love of Jesus that you are portraying? Now here is the fact. You never know who is listening and paying attention not just to what you say, but to what the Lord is doing through you. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching a class of preschoolers or senior adults, leading a choir in preparation, helping the congregation in focusing on praising God or preaching a sermon about one of the great doctrines. You do not know who is actually listening and not just to your voice but to the Spirit of God making application in a life.

Years ago at a Sunday evening worship service we sang, prayed and preached. I thought it was just another Sunday night service, but as I gave the invitation a man, who was in his 80’s, came down the aisle to make his profession of faith in Jesus. I had no idea of what was going on in his life and heart. I had no knowledge of the struggle that had gone on in his life since he was a young teenager. I had no understanding of the family in which he had grown up that was not anti-God or Christ but was not particular in favor of the church either. And so, for decades he came to church sometimes regularly and at other times spasmodically always struggling with the need of giving his life to Christ.

Looking back on that night, I realized that I had no idea of the significance of the things I was preaching and the applications I was seeking to make in the hearts of the people gathered. But God was using the entire experience to bring a song to a man’s life, and he trusted the Savior. So here is my admonition. Well, here is a call from a singing Cardinal sitting in a leafless tree. Sing, sing your song. Sing when you feel like it. Sing when it is cold and windy. Sing if there is a multitude there to hear, and sing the song of Jesus when there is only an audience of one person to hear and respond. Sing on and God will bless you!

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer