Have you ever given something completely to God, only to find that He returns it to you?
Last week at church choir rehearsal, I noticed that a piece we will be singing on November 1st has an oboe part. So I volunteered to play it on clarinet, if the director, Sue, wanted. She was so excited to hear that I play clarinet, and she gushed that she played clarinet back in the day, and she was just thrilled to have me do that. So I was prepared to rehearse that song with the choir tonight.
Tonight as I was walking into church, with my clarinet in tow, I saw the flute player, and I thought I hope Sue didn’t change her mind and assign this oboe part to her. And I saw the woman who plays the electronic keyboard for the instrumental parts, and I thought, I hope she doesn’t think I’m trying to take her role away from her. And I saw Sue and I thought I hope she hasn’t changed her mind, decided I’m just being a nuisance, decided I probably suck and I’ll be more of a problem than a good addition…
At the doorway to the sanctuary, I paused and looked up at the cross, and I prayed one phrase: All for You. As all parts of my life should be, so should my playing. And then I went on: God, if this isn’t all for You, if it isn’t exactly what You want from me, if it isn’t honoring and glorifying to You, then please, crush it.
A few minutes later, we began rehearsal with the song. I start the introduction, and the piano comes in a few measures later, followed by the choir. I played my intro, the piano joined, and before the choir came in, Sue stopped us, and looked at me, and she said, “Wow, I never sounded like that!” I think that’s just about the most encouraging compliment I could hear right now! I’ve been wondering how far away from my good sound I am. Obviously, in the days when I was practicing 10-15 hours a week, I had a much better sound than the day that I played for the first time in five years! Within a few days, I started to recognize echoes of my good sound…but playing maybe an hour a week for a few months, in comparison to playing hours and hours for 12 years? Do I sound like a 7th grader? A 10th grader? How long does it take to make up for those five years of not playing? I still don’t know, but it was nice to know that someone immediately recognized a good sound as a characteristic of my playing.
Then, oh then, things went downhill for a few minutes. I made some stupid mistakes in the first verse, and Sue had to stop and redirect me a little bit. *Sigh*…she’s thinking I’m an ammateur, I don’t know what I’m doing, she’s never going to ask me to play again…
But I quickly got it together, and the rest of the song went just fine. And at the end, the whole choir sort of sighed, and then I heard a few comments like, “Really lovely,” and, “That was so nice.” And everyone clapped.
At the end of rehearsal, Sue encouraged me to make copies of the flute parts as well, and the flute player lent me her binder and pointed out a few pieces with two instrumental parts, and Sue said: “It’s so wonderful to have a good clarinet player.”
Wow. In the moment in the doorway, I offered this experience up to God, and He gave it back to me…more than I could have imagined. I sing all day long, and I can hold my own in choir, and I’m learning a lot, but I’m no soloist. And I love to play piano more than anything in the world, but I’m not very well trained. Playing clarinet is the one thing that I do well, at which I am very well trained, that I have definitely put in the time and effort to become proficient. But even so, there is no reason to expect to be recognized for that, and God allowed it to happen anyway.