May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. – Psalm 20:4 (niv)
Have you stood in front of the mirror and sang into the handle of your hairbrush? Have you ever, as you swept the house, pulled the wand up in front of you and pretended you had just belted out a song to a standing ovation?
I had a desire deep in my heart to sing for the Lord. I became a Christian at the age of nine, and shortly afterward, I sang a children’s chorus in front of the congregation. Then I didn’t sing again for years. My shyness overcame my desire. I sang into hairbrushes and sweeper wands instead.
As a teenager I worked up enough nerve to join the church choir. One of the fun aspects included watching the pianist, Mary, as her fingers glided across the ivories providing the upbeat and lively accompaniment to our choir specials.
One Sunday Mary stopped me after church. “Young lady, you have a very good voice. Have you ever thought of singing a solo?”
Oh, no. I’d heard this before. The idea of singing by myself terrified me, but I went to Mary’s for the fun of it. We practiced for a while, and I’m still not sure how she convinced me, but I agreed to sing a solo in church the next Sunday.
With a quivery voice and knees knocking, I managed to sing, and felt that long hidden desire rise up within me once more. A few weeks later Mary invited me to her home again. This time two other women showed up, and Mary announced, “These are your backup singers.”
In the years to follow, we celebrated many milestones – the first time we sang as a group, the recording of my first album, which Mary and her husband financed, and eventually, my stepping out to sing with another group that traveled throughout our tri-state area.
Is it a coincidence that Mary thought I might like to sing? I believe the Lord uses people to accomplish His work in His children. He used Mary to fulfill my childhood desire to sing for His glory. Often I think of Mary and the encouragement and blessing she bestowed upon my life, and I’m reminded of a woman who sacrificed her time and talent to help a floundering young woman find her purpose.
In Luke 6:40 (niv), Jesus said, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
Shortly after Mary set me on my musical path, she passed away. After her death, I was blessed to bring her piano to my home and learned to play. Thirty years later, I’m still singing. I’m a pastor’s wife, and like Mary was so long ago, the church pianist.
When I think of Mary, I recall her dedication to mentor a young woman like me. Now one of my greatest desires is not only to praise God in song, but also to encourage people to discover and utilize the talent He has given them.
Cancer overcame Mary’s physical body but I can imagine her playing the piano for a heavenly choir. And here on earth, through me, her song lives on.
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