Being the Second Chair

Raised Arms | Devotion 3: Being the Second Chair
Max Sinclair

Throughout middle school and my freshman year of high school, I was in the school’s band, and I played the trombone. I was not really good, to be honest, I had a hard time reading sheet music, but I knew how to fake it. I sat at the second chair and would be able to use the corner of my eye to see what the first chair player was playing, and I would mimic the slide placement for the instrument making the same note. Now I am not ashamed of my inability to play, but one time, I was promoted to the first chair by a fluke instance. This now brought my insecurity to light, and immediately I realized that I could not pretend to play anymore. I could no longer hide my inability and had to realize that I was not first chair material. I had to come to grips with the fact that I did not possess the skill or ability to be the first chair trombone player for my school’s band. I still do not know how to play the trombone, but the truth that hurts to say is sometimes I need to understand that I am not going to be number one.

Exodus 17:8-13 tells the infamous story about the defeat of the Amalekites by God’s power displayed through the Israelites. The story starts with Amalek raising an army and marching against the Israelites. Moses tells Joshua to choose men and go out and fight with Amalek, and while they fight, Moses will held the Staff of God in his hand while standing on a hill overlooking the battle. Joshua did as Moses instructed and went to battle. As Joshua went into battle, Moses, Aaron, and Hur headed up to the hill. As the battle raged down below, whenever Moses held the staff aloft, the Israelites would start to win, but as soon as he put the staff down, they would begin to lose. The battle went on for such a long time that Moses’ arms grew tired, and his arms would fall. Aaron and Hur went and hold up his arms and even put rocks under them so that the Israelites would win. Eventually, the Amalekites were defeated, and the children of Israel had victory over their enemies. This awesome event shows that it is ok to be the second chair, to not be the leader, and to not be the one in the spotlight.

Over the past few weeks, I feel as if God has really been working in me to reveal my pride and correct it. It has hindered me in the past and has brought me to some of the darkest places I have ever been, all because I thought I knew what was best. I tried to be the first chair of my life, I tried to be the star of the movie of my life, and I realize that it is not about me. In this story, we see that it was not Joshua’s supreme fighting prowess, Moses was not strong enough to hold up the staff for very long, and that Aaron and Hur were smart to find something to help Moses hold up his arms. However, they still did not win the battle. What we need to focus on and look to in this instance is that the battle is the Lord’s.

A few hundred years later, we will see a man, who would later become King of Israel, say the same thing to a giant who stood opposed to God at the Valley of Elah. In 1 Samuel 17:47, David shouted, “And that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” The battles that we face are already won. We do not win them. Often we sit back in fear and run. We retreat, falter, and fail, but the simple fact is we are not the hero of this story. Christ is the Hero of the story, He is the first chair, and He is the one who brings victory. It is not us nor our actions. In the start of Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

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