I’ve just had the wonderful privilege of playing, yet again, with the All Souls Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall. It was a fabulous concert, in an amazing venue that was filled with the most incredible sound all with the purpose of honouring God – the joy expressed was fantastic! Such a privilege took me on a solo trip to London. My husband very graciously allowed me to leave him amidst the chaos of four active youngsters and a pre-election campaign in full swing. I couldn’t help it, I felt guilty leaving him at such a time. But I called it my “Spiritual Retreat” time. Often when we leave everything familiar we are more alert to noticing and learning new things and I was expecting God to do something fresh in my life.
Faithful as always, indeed He did refresh and teach me more about himself and His infinite wisdom. I thought I’d put into words some of the things I have learnt and been reminded of.
I’ve never really thought in great depth about the importance having hope plays in my life. I take it for granted that I live with hope. Hope holds hands with faith, joy and love. They are colleagues that work well together and provide comfort and continuity in the variety of life.
Recently, I allowed my emotions to get over actively involved with my musical endeavours and I lost hope. I enjoy playing music. I love being able to make music. I love the way it brings people together and I love the beauty of expression that is in music. Most of all I love music being used as communication to or from God. To me, that is the primary purpose of music and that is why I make music, but I enjoy it for its other uses too.
Yet, I still struggle to classify myself as a musician. I struggle to perform. I have never especially enjoyed performing solo. I love playing in ensembles, but still struggle to perform. Even being awarded a performance scholarship at University couldn’t persuade me to study performance and I dropped performing after my first year. Doing a concert last year helped me to actively engage God and my faith as part of the process and purpose of performance and it felt like a step in a new direction (Encouraged to Have Courage). Music is to be shared, but in performing I’m fighting my natural inclinations. Playing in a worship setting, I never class as performance and that comes more naturally.
My emotions have become very involved along the path I felt God encouraged me to walk. But my emotions were beginning to speak louder than my faith – they were becoming the voice I heard above the others. A few weeks before I was due to play in the Royal Albert Hall concert, I was informed that my violin was ready to be collected from repair. Two days later, the violin I’d borrowed for the past six months (a beautiful instrument) got cracked by one of the children knocking it in its case. I had intended to insure the borrowed violin, and have only myself to blame that I didn’t. At the moment of discovering the crack initially, I was teaching and I felt like the contents of my stomach hit the floor, but I held everything together for the duration of the lesson. However, afterwards I allowed despair to do it’s work. That is not the usual me, but at that moment, I was in a very vulnerable place. I decided that maybe I should actually give up playing and the intention with which I choose to make music, altogether because every time I come to a new place in my worship and musical prayer life, at home, something happens to destroy the progress.
When Tim came home and I told him the news he was very positive and spoke in faith to me not in emotion. He stood with me, encouraged me, prayed for me, strengthened me and then gently nudged me in the right direction of speaking to the borrowed violin’s owner.
Collecting my violin then was a case of taking the other for repair at the same time, and I knew it would be costly, but I was still shocked by the quote the luthier gave me. As I left the violin in the repair shop, I have left the matter of how we pay for it in God’s hands. My faith has begun to speak louder than my emotions. It was at the point of handing this detail over to God that I realised how upside down I had allowed things to become.
I slipped back a bit, though, when I got home and found that the problem with MY violin (which I don’t know what it is) had not been solved by the repair work that had been done on it. I’d sent it in not knowing what the cause of the problem was and have it back with a new bridge and saddle, but still the loss of sweet tone that was such a beautiful part of its character. One day it just suddenly changed (after I had experienced a greater freedom of expression in my playing); like loosing a friend to alzheimers it had forgotten its beautiful tone. I don’t know how now to solve the problem, but faith speaks louder and tells me to trust God in the matter. May be I need a new violin? I’ve NEVER ever thought that of my beloved instrument, before, since it was given to me when I was 15 and has always met the standard of everything I’ve had to do. I don’t know! But the instrument I borrowed has overshadowed it by comparison. My faith tells me not to worry and that all things will work together for the good of those who love God. As I trust Him, I will continue to give Him my all in worshipping Him on my sick instrument.
A conversation with an encouraging friend about staying on top of the things that pull us down came at the right time to help faith speak louder than my emotions again. I began to think that if my violin is sick, why can’t I pray for it to be healed? Anyway, I played in the Royal Albert Hall with the instrument as it is and I enjoyed the whole experience. My intent was to bring God glory and it was amazing.
I shared a desk with a very accomplished musician who played baroque violin, violin, cello, double bass, piano and harp. One would naturally assume this individual is a professional but actually he is a scientist. I made many mistakes and often felt that his expertise was carrying and covering my ineptitude. I dread the production of the DVD made on the night that just might show when my bow was going in the opposite direction to others, but remind myself it is not about me.
The purpose of why I write as I do is that through the whole experience I have realised that my music in itself, the skill etc is just a seed. Just as everything I have, my home, family, husband, understanding, wisdom, words, talents, finances etc. etc. are not my own, but belong to God. They are seeds that He has placed in my life as a blessing. I have the choice of what I want to do with those seeds. I have a choice of where I plant those seeds. I want to plant the seeds of every blessing God gives me in a place where they will grow and produce fruit for His glory.
So being able to play with the All Souls Orchestra was a privileged way of planting seed into something that would grow and bring God glory. Although I was ashamed of my mistakes, no one condemned or belittled me and so I felt that I grew in the context of playing with the orchestra. My desire to glorify God through music increased.
I realise that every blessing we have in our life should conduct God’s presence and become a blessing to others. Here I am, with an instrument that seems to have Alzheimers and a feeling that my skill in music is nothing, yet I’m completely absorbed and excited by the concept of hope. I believe in faith that God will take the seeds that we chose to give Him. These seeds are dead in our hands. But, in His they produce fruit. My music is a seed I chose to give Him and I am excited to see what He will grow from it.
This is my declaration of hope that I believe God will create something beautiful for His glory out of the “nothing”, the seed that is dead in my hand.
This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Romans 4:17b
I keep chewing, and chewing this over. I am so excited to believe in the God who brings the dead back to life and who can create new things out of nothing. I’m rejoicing and watching Him work!