I should have had my head bowed during the offering prayer, but I was watching Sarah. She was watching the light shining through the stain-glass window, flooding the sanctuary with blue, green, and purple sunbeams. Sarah pulled her hand from her mouth, shoved it between her lap, and the pew where she sat a few feet from me. I could see the fear in her in her eyes. The prayer ended. Sarah looked up. At a nod from the Pastor, she pushed herself off the pew and walked up onto the platform and over to the spot where all the soloists stand on Sunday mornings. The ten-year-old faced us. Her eyes stared straight forward; arms swinging gracefully at her sides. Over two hundred eyes stared back at her. Sarah’s bottom lip gave the slightest quiver. When the music started, Sarah picked up the microphone and started her song. It was the first time she had ever sung in front of a group. I had seen her sing in the children’s choir, but this was different. This time she stood all alone.
Sarah’s voice cracked. Her breath caught. Her eyes widen… But she went on. Part of her song was crisp and clear. Others parts … well, they could have used a bit of work. I could tell you knew she was off key at one point. Her eyes grew wide with panic and her voice trembled even more; but she continued.
When she finished her song, Sarah placed the microphone back in the stand; smiled weakly and walked back to her seat. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I saw a tear trickle down her cheek as she passed by me. Along with the rest of the congregation, I clapped and I returned my eyes up front. Pastor Dan walked to the spot where Sarah had just been standing. He stood there, silently he clutched the microphone. The room went utterly still.
Slowly Pastor Dan brought the microphone to his mouth. His face was shining brightly even as it blushed red. His shoulders were back and chest puffed out. A prouder father I had never seen.
“Thank you, Sarah. That was beautiful! Didn’t she do a great job, folks?” We all clapped in a loud round of applause again.
I was proud of Sarah too. She had done something I’m not sure I could have done. She had done it with grace and perseverance. But what touched me the most was watching her father.
He looked like the proudest father in the world that day. Sarah’s father didn’t see her mistakes. He saw her effort. He didn’t see what she had done wrong. He saw her accomplishments. He didn’t see that she wasn’t the best one in the church to be up there singing a solo. He saw that she had given all that she had for the glory of God.
Tears were streaming down my face. It had been a hard week, full of failures. I had been… well, less than perfect. I realized that, like Sarah’s father, my Heavenly Father didn’t look at my failures but at my trust in Him.
He was proud of me.