Tuesday, December 8, 2009

called to play; called to serve

My heart began to race as I read the email from our church's choir director. He was asking for volunteers to play in an ensemble for our annual Christmas program. The musical score called for strings, flutes, and an oboe. My response was not one of excitement, but fear. I love playing (and hiding) in our orchestra when I can, but this was an ensemble, with fewer instruments and more exposure. That would mean, gulp, that people could hear me.

The oboe is a quirky instrument. The double reed mouthpiece makes playing difficult as the sound is hard to control and breathing tricky. As far as I know, it is the only instrument that requires the player to breathe out extra air before taking a quick breath in, which can result in a lot of light-headedness while playing. An oboe played poorly sounds much like a quacking duck crossed with a dog's squeak toy. Played well, however, it has a warm, haunting sound that is easily heard even over the rest of the orchestra.

Not many people play oboe, so when the instrument is needed, I feel fairly obligated to say yes. On the other hand, it is a difficult instrument to play and I'm far from accomplished. Multiply this high-maintenance instrument with a quiet personality and a love for playing, and you have my oboe complex.

After a couple of weeks of practice and armed with a new reed, I ventured out to the first rehearsal. The first time through the piece, I was alarmed to hear my instrument sound hopelessly out of tune. A check of the score revealed that my part was written for the English Horn, so we quickly transposed the notes and tried again. Much better...and I had a grand total of 36 notes. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

The choir assembled and the real rehearsal began. An acoustic guitar, violin, viola, flute, and choir voices combined to form a rich, full sound that made my heart sing along. There were a few small measures where my oboe chimed in, warmly carrying melody and harmony, picking up where others left off and weaving its part in the song of Mary's Magnificat. The beauty of it all took my breath away.

No matter how quirky our personalities may be, how much we wonder if we have anything to add to the cacophony of the lives sounding around us, when we trustfully put our lives into the hands of the Master Composer, He has a place for each willing life. Whether you sound notes of warmth, order, creativity, or precision, whether quiet or loud, there is no one else who has quite the part you can play in God's symphony of the redemption of man. It will take sacrifice, practice, and a life that is in tune with the will of God. Don't miss it for fear of making mistakes or being exposed for who you truly are. The Composer of the ages knows where to place you in the score. It may take your breath away when you see how He has woven your life together with that of others to produce something beautiful for His sake and glory.

Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Romans 10:11 "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

This post was written as a response to Creative Stretch #5, "something that makes your heart sing." See Erin's light-hearted post here.

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