Sunday, December 7, 2014

Playing Beautiful Music

Today I read for the daily Advent meditation:

"There must always be a relationship between the gift and the recipient--there is no point in giving anyone a treasure he cannot use. A father would not give a boy with no talent for music a Stradivarius violin. Neither will God give to egocentrics those gifts and powers and energies that they never propose to put to work in the transformation of their lives and souls." --Fulton Sheen

It was a fitting read, because today we received a huge gift from someone. We got a piano.

The way it came about was rather odd, but really, I've experienced nothing but oddness since we have moved here so in a way, it's nothing new.

Last week, I got an email from a church friend (who also happens to be my neighbor), telling me that a lady she knows is looking for a child who would be willing to play the organ and that she would pick up the cost of the lessons, if the child would agree to participate in playing for the church. She felt very strongly that this was something God wanted her to do; she had been feeling this "calling" for years and had been praying and looking for someone who would "answer" this call, but so far, no one has stepped forward.

I'll be honest, I thought the whole thing pretty strange but one thing I really try not to do is judge someone when they feel God is asking something of them. I mean, He asks something from all of us at one time or another, but maybe the strange part is when someone actually responds to that call. Then we all tend to raise our skeptical eyebrows and say, "God is asking you to do what??"

So to be nice, I told my neighbor-friend that I would ask my kids if they would be interested in learning how to play the organ. As I expected, each of them said no. I mean, the organ is about the most unpopular instrument out there.

Except for Lucy. She loves to learn and even though she was a little disappointed to hear it was the organ, she still wanted to learn. So I volunteered Lucy for the job to my friend.

Her response was more than enthusiastic; the lady who initiated this whole thing was even more enthusiastic that someone finally wanted to learn how to play the organ.

I began to feel a little uneasy about the whole thing. Lucy is small for her age and I couldn't picture her playing a big brassy organ. I was imagining her playing in church, straining her toes as far as they could go to play the pedals. I began to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into.

To make it worse, the lady got in touch with me and told me that she would pay for Lucy's piano lessons. So now it was not just the organ she was going to learn, but the piano too. I suppose a piano is a stepping stone towards the organ, so that makes sense. But I didn't know this lady to well (just vaguely from church) and I was uncomfortable with her paying for Lucy's lessons. On the other hand, I knew that Dennis would not want to pay for the lessons either.

But the lady wouldn't hear any of it. She kept insisting, "This is what I'm supposed to do!" and that was that. Luckily, the lady who is giving the lessons (yes, there's a 3rd lady in all this) charges very cheap--only $10 a lesson, so that helped a little. So I decided to take this as an act of good will and just hoped that Lucy could deliver.

But that wasn't all. The lady went on to tell me that we should start looking on Craigslist for a cheap and used piano. I wanted to say, now hold on a minute! Piano lessons is one thing but now you want us to get a piano???  I could feel myself beginning to sweat, my brain jumping from disappointing this nice old lady and letting her know there was no way we could afford a piano to Dennis who would blow his top if I even considered to continue to say yes to this whole crazy scheme. I mean, I was trying to be nice. That was how this all started. And now, I felt trapped in this mess with this woman's dream and "call".

Before I could protest, the lady said she would pay for the piano. "Oh no," I heard myself saying, "we can't let you do that. We would like to at least help pay for it." And then I wondered how that was going to happen.

So after all this, I weakly told Dennis the whole thing. He is used to these strange, crazy messes that I tend to get wound up in so he wasn't too surprised. All he said was, "Well, I hope you can figure out how we're going to pay for a piano."

That one I had to leave to God. I decided if this truly was a "call" that this woman had, that this really was something God wanted Lucy to do, that He would have to find a way for us to get a piano without breaking the bank and without Dennis divorcing me. So I left that one up to Him.

The next day, the lady called again all excited. She had found a piano. I felt my stomach drop, because I hadn't even had a chance to put money aside or even look at Craigslist. All I could think of was how all of this so out of control--all I had agreed to do was let Lucy take some free lessons and even that was hard for me to accept. But we hadn't planned on getting a piano. We are still trying to pay off the carpet and tile.

The lady said to me, "I know (so-and-so) and guess what--she has been looking for years to get rid of her piano! It's 30 years old and needs a tuning, but it's yours if you want it! And you won't believe it, she lives just down the road from you! She said she would take $100 for it if we want to give anything. Can you believe this? God answers prayer!"

She was so excited that all I could do was weakly say, "when should we pick it up?"

So the next thing I know, she is calling around to find a trailer and round up help for me to get the piano to my house. And I still didn't even have the one hundred dollars that I was supposed to pay.
Pretty soon, I got an email from my neighbor-friend who volunteered her husband and sons to deliver the piano. The least I could do was volunteer Dennis as well. I mean, we had done nothing to help. I couldn't let them do all the work!

After our neighbor dropped off the piano, I still had the awkward task of letting him know that we hadn't gotten the $50 that we agreed to pay yet. As though he were reading my mind, he handed me an envelope. I looked inside. It was $100 in cash! He said to me, "The lady who gave the piano away decided she didn't want to accept money. So this is from M (the lady with the "call") to pay for the lessons."

Well, I guess she was right, God does answer prayer! Because I sure didn't know where that money would come from!

So within a week, we had a request, a call, and an answer. And now we have a piano. Never in a million years would I have expected to own such a luxury. Now all we have to do, is make Lucy a child-prodigy.

It honestly was not easy for me to accept all this. The hardest part for me was how I must look to others by agreeing to this. I felt funny and uncomfortable with it from the beginning, tried to back-pedal my way out of it, tried to talk my wat out of it. But it was impossible to do without offending so many that wanted to do this for us.

After all the excitement died down,  we sat around our Advent wreath for prayer time. I told my kids  that like Fulton Sheen says so well in his book, a gift is made to be given away. God doesn't give gifts to those who won't use them. Somehow, within one week, we have been given both free lessons and a piano from a woman who has a dream to see a child lead the church in song. I told Lucy that now we have to give back and repay these good people by doing our best to learn so that one day Lucy might play for the church--and eventually, the organ. Not to put the pressure on her or anything.

I must admit, I still have my doubts. Our family really hasn't shown any sort of musical talent. I'm not sure what God has planned, but I have a feeling that He will show us in due time. In the meantime, we will do our best to give back in the best possible way that we know how by playing beautiful music for Him.

"and a child will lead them."  Isaiah 11:6

1 comment:

  1. How exciting! What a wonderful chain of events! A piano is a great instrument to learn music on. Grace is having so much fun playing piano and I am amazed at how well she does. I'm sure Lucy will be able to do equally well once she gets going. She seems like the kind of kid who can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Tell her that eventually, she and Grace can play duets! :) Keep us updated!