". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Best We've Got

My dear friend Rebekah is worried. As she explains here, her congregation's beloved organist died several months ago and she, as pastor's wife and best available musician, is being called upon to fill the void (even in her continuing grief). What Rebekah doesn't share in her post is how hard she is working to do so. I know this because she and I have talked about it. I know how much she cares and how much she wants to serve and I have feebly tried to support her with generally useless, long-distance advice.

I commented on Rebekah's blog post this morning and then several more thoughts came that I have decided to post here. First, it is one of those cosmic ironies that often the people who for various reasons (ability, time, resources, support) are most able to improve their skills are the ones who don't bother, while those who face much greater challenges to their progress are the ones who nonetheless make the effort to improve. I am reminded of when Trevor, now 20, played basketball at the age of 8. He was the weakest player on the team, both physically and in skills and experience. And yet the coaches loved him, and so did the rest of the team. Why? Because he had what Coach Collins called "heart." He gave himself to the game unreservedly. He tried his best every single second he was on the court, and it showed. He loved that team, and they loved him. And in loving him the way they did, I believe his teammates left that season stronger players and better people. A couple of years ago I was stopped in Walmart by a woman who said, "You're Trevor's mom, aren't you?" At first I didn't recognize her. But then she introduced herself and I realized that she was the wife of Trevor's assistant coach from 10 years before. Trevor played on that team for about three months, and after the season was over both the coach and the assistant coach and their families came to our church on a Sunday afternoon to hear Trevor's piano recital. They wanted to see and affirm him in his element. And ten years later that wonderful woman recognized me. It didn't matter to her that Trevor didn't get a basket the whole season. She remembered his heart.

My second thought is that God calls whom He will. About 25 years ago my husband and I were newly married and attending a Lutheran church in Texas (the one in which I was catechized) and singing in the choir. Within a year the pastor came to Phillip and told him the choir director/organist was leaving and he wanted Phillip to take the position. At the time my husband was working as a freelance musician, playing piano bar and teaching community college. He said, "But I'm not a church musician." Pastor said, "You're the best we've got. Now get up there [in the choir loft] and get busy." My husband did not know how to play organ at the time. He was a pianist. He also had no training as a choir director. But he was the best that church had, so he learned to do both. If you can believe it, I even played organ sometimes and directed the children's choir! Now, because I have so many years of watching world class organists and choir directors at work, I am afraid to do either. You're not the only one who feels inadequate, my dearest Rebekah! But God calls whom He will, and I believe at this time He is calling you to this role. Thanks be to Him that in faith you are answering that call!

My final thought is that while we tend to think that the best way we can serve others is to be excellent and successful and in charge, sometimes God has other plans. Sometimes the best way we can serve is by being weak, imperfect, needy and human. Sometimes it is in our weakness that God provides an opportunity for others to be loving, kind, magnanimous, tolerant, and indulgent. And perhaps in our weakness those whom we are supposed to be serving and leading will find that they are able to call upon parts of themselves they didn't know were there.

I am so thankful, Rebekah, that you have a congregation full of people who love you amidst the mess. Let them keep on doing that. When you're not able to sing or play, they will carry on. They will sing to one another and to you and be blessed in doing so because that is what being a family in Christ is all about. "Through the Church the song goes on."


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. Very encouraging. I love what you posted about Trevor and also hearing your husbands history in church music. Carole

Melanie T. said...

What wonderful encouragement for Rebekah and for all of us who feel inadequate when we are called to serve. I'll remember your words tomorrow as I muddle through our Lessons and Carols service and wish that I was a better organist. Thank you.

Myrtle said...

Thank you for sharing!

Rebekah said...

Thank you, you dear lady, for this, and for all your thoroughly un-useless advice, and for listening to my crazy talk. I have not given up hope!