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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: The Ultimate Note
By Carolyn Baney


Amanda fiddled with the ragged edges of the old torn piece of paper, opening it, reading it, and folding it repeatedly. “How many years had it been?” she reminisced.

As if he were an apparition, an elderly man had emerged from the shadows of the backstage curtains, handing her this paper and simply stating, ”Believe.” At the time, her church and parents had recognized her as a child prodigy. How quickly her gift of song had mutated from jubilance to a chore. How swiftly her carefree childhood had escalated from lazy afternoons of sitting in her bay window dreaming to mundane engagements, practices, and obligations. Like steer going to the slaughter, her parents and pastor prodded her using the words, “It’s your God-given gift, your calling. You must use it in the service of Jesus.” Thus, servitude became her yoke, yet slavery seemed a more appropriate word. Before long, her once heavenly notes lost their flavor, becoming hallow and meaningless.

As soon as opportunity knocked, Amanda bolted like a runaway slave, eloping with Sam, the son of a pastor. They were soul mates. Desiring freedom from their legalistic God, they cleansed themselves from it all, church and God. Joining the fast track to success, life streamed by them feverishly, a roaring river attempting to drag them downstream. Amanda awoke one morning a battered and worn divorced mother of three, drowning in debt. There was no music in her anymore; she barely hummed a tune.

Swallowing her pride, Amanda and her three children returned to her hometown, slinking into the place she once called prison. Amazingly, she found her bedroom untouched, and she peered at the paper lying on her desk exactly where she had left it. It read,

“ Musicians talk of an ultimate note. That is a note you will not find on any keyboards. It is a peculiar note. A man sits down to tune a piano, or any fine instrument. He has no guide to proper key, and yet he has a guide. That guide is the note that he has in his soul. And the nearer he can bring his instrument into harmony with that note in his soul, the nearer perfection he has attained.
There is an ultimate note in the heart of Christians. It is the note of conscious victory through Jesus Christ. The nearer our life is tuned to that note of conscious victory, the greater the victory that will be evidenced in our life.”
Signed, John G. Lake*

The cheering crowd forced Amanda’s thoughts back to the present. “You’re on!” announced the stagehand, motioning her towards the stage. Pressing the scrap of paper into a pocket close to her heart, she closed her eyes and prayed, “Lord, I seek the ultimate note for no one else but you and I. I can’t do it without your Spirit.” Temporarily blinded by the lights, Amanda shook before thousands. Steadying her crackling voice, she belted out, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a retch like me…” Tears began to flow, and the Spirit fell upon them. Before long the multitudes were all singing in united heavenly praises…reaching towards and achieving the Ultimate note. It was a sweet sound that rose up to heaven that day, even the angels stopped to listen.

*John G. Lake – His Life, His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith

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Jacquelyn Horne03/15/07
Good article on how (and sometimes why) we stray, and the results we reap. But God is always there to pick up the pieces. What a great God...watch your "I" and "me" rules. Very good story however.
George Parler 03/15/07
I know all too well how the world can sour the melody within us. Nice relatable story.

We can rewrite the lyrics to our song but the music has a way of reminding us of God in the end.

Good job!
Clyde Blakely03/16/07
Wonderful article. You caught the flavor of many lives and the return to Christ's love, forgiveness, and ministry.

God bless and keep writing.
Denise Pienaar03/16/07
As a school teacher I am often dismayed at how much pressure parents put on their children to achieve. Yes, children do need encouragement but we also need to remember that they need time just to be children. How wonderful that God restored Amanda's love for music and for Him. Thank you for a very thought provoking piece of writing.
Myrna Noyes03/20/07
I love your title and the idea it portrays! This is such a sad story of the warping of a gift and a life, but it is also a story of the eventual redemption of that gift and that life. Good job! :)