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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: C Sharp
By Sandra Petersen


The opening strains of ‘I Surrender All’ floated in the rafters of the sanctuary. I brought my clarinet to my mouth and waited.

“Are you tired of wrestling with the Lord, trying to get Him to agree with you rather than agreeing with Him? I invite you to come forward, lay yourself on that altar of submission, and surrender to Him. He is waiting for you.” Pastor paused. “As the worship team plays, come and give it all to Him.”

Pastor nodded at me, my cue to begin. I was to play the entire piece twice as a solo. On the third time through, the vocalists would add their voices, sweetly, softly, as if angels’ wings were caressing the souls of the congregation. The tempo was slow and the mechanics of the piece simple enough that I should have no problems.

The notes I played glistened with emotion. As I coaxed the music from my clarinet, my instrument wept with a voice of surrender.

I scanned the congregation for reactions. Some, with eyes closed, stood with hands lifted to the heavens. Old Mrs. Stauffer, her white hair combed into a neat bun, smiled faintly, lost in memories of eighty years of camp meetings and altar calls. Sam and Becky, a young newly-wed and newly-saved couple, left their seats to come forward, their faces moist with tears. The leader of the worship team caught my eye and smiled in approval. I wondered why only two people responded but figured the chorus would beckon the others.

Then it happened: the dilemma every musician faces at least once in their lives. An instrument malfunction. I pressed the C-sharp key for the first and highest note of the chorus and nothing came out.

Not now. I groaned inwardly.

The C-sharp appeared twice in the chorus, sustained notes both times, and I could not play it.

If this happened during practice, I would scan my clarinet for the culprit, usually a loose pad. When I found it, I would apply the flame of a lighter under the key to get the glue on the pad to adhere again. But my lighter was tucked away in my case, and my case was under the pew. My husband sat beside it, frowning with concern at the second missed note.

My cheeks blazed with an embarrassed flush. The second time through the piece I decided to drop the chorus an octave to avoid the malfunctioning key. As I came to the end of the solo, I also came to the end of my clarinet’s range. The last two notes were too low for my instrument.

The vocalists began to sing as I held my clarinet in frustration and silently fumed.

I blew it, Lord. I wanted to move more people to come and commit themselves to You, and I couldn’t do it.

His voice whispered to me from within. “No, you couldn’t. Do you not know the Holy Spirit brings them to Me? Not you. Surrender your musical gift to Me, and I will work through you to move mountains.”

My heart wept at His words. Then He added, “Come to the altar, Daughter. And bring your clarinet.”

Cradling my instrument in my arms, I joined the large group in front already singing, “I surrender all.”

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This article has been read 1174 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Cheri Hardaway 03/15/07
A beautiful illustration of the process of surrender every one of us must go through to be used by Him! Blessings, Cheri
Sharlyn Guthrie03/15/07
Your story brought back memories for this former clarinet player. I could hear the instrument "weep" so well. Great writing.
Elizabeth Baize03/15/07
I greatly appreciated your story. This was a blessing and wonderful reminder.
Myrna Noyes03/16/07
Very lovely piece demonstrating different ways we are called to "surrender all." Through your descriptive writing I could picture the whole scene very clearly and was caught up in the tension of the situation. Great lesson here! Thank you! :)
Jan Ackerson 03/19/07
This is such a wonderful cautionary tale for all of us who "perform" for our churches! From "I just couldn't do it" to the end, my spirit was leaping with this one!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/19/07
This is a beautiful reminder that it is God who blesses our talents, and for Him to use us for His glory, we must surrender all that we are and have to Him.
Laurie Glass 03/19/07
What a great reminder. We all need to hear something like this from time to time I think.
Jen Davis03/19/07
Such a wonderful message and a beautiful ending to this story.
Sheri Gordon03/19/07
Wow. Very powerful -- especially to us musicians who "perform" at church. It's so easy to forget that we're just God instruments, playing instruments. I've been the one sitting there with my flute, totally feeling like I blew it. I loved the way you used "I Surrender All." This was really good.
Jacquelyn Horne03/19/07
Wonderful show of repentance here. I loved this example of God showing that he is in charge. A lesson we all need to learn.
Loren T. Lowery03/20/07
Beautiful surrender story. It is amazing the instruments God uses to call His children.
Joanne Sher 03/20/07
A wonderful story of surrender. Even as an "unmusical" person, this had much meaning for me - and was quite convicting. Wonderful.
Sara Harricharan 03/21/07
Loved the ending! It fit just right and is still sticking in my head. Great job with that and very realistic with the clarinet. ^_^
Donna Powers 03/21/07
Oh, I loved this. A wonderful story of surrended to the Lord. I could relate to this and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing
Julie Arduini03/21/07
Wonderful lesson, so realistic with the clarinet. Surrender, what a great theme to chew on long after the music is over!
Joanney Uthe03/22/07
Great writing and great message. I like the image of taking the clarinet to the alter also.
Sara Harricharan 03/22/07
Congratulations on the EC! ^_^
Loren T. Lowery03/22/07
So enjoyed the message of this artilce. Congratulations on a well-deserved place in the EC Awards
Venice Kichura03/26/07
Masterfully written & a well-deserverd congratulations!