And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen me now …
It was late evening, Sunday 03 November 2013 when the text message vibrated the cell phone. The message delivered an unexpected request from the church pianist, a request that was a bit of shock with its potential responsibility and the intended honor.
“We would like for u to listen 2 our song selections for our Adult Christmas & maybe see what u thought u could add to it as far as narration 🙂 will get a cd to u sometime this week! :)”
Quite honestly I read the text many times, each time thinking that these people must be crazy. Granted I had spoken and written in ministry years ago and write often now on a blog, but writing narration for a Christmas cantata is entirely out of my experience and out of my comfort zone. Perhaps I misunderstood the request and the reality was not as daunting as it seemed.
It was the next morning when I went into the office to pick up the CD and chat with the music director, still in a bit of a daze. I left the office with the CD in hand, feeling even more overwhelmed and in greater shock. I was being asked to not only write the narration but to be the narrator as well. I was familiar with none of the songs with the exception of The Hallelujah Chorus and unfamiliar with the music director, his work style, his personality or his expectations. I was given not a lot of limits within to work, only the suggested length of the overall narration. “It would be great if you could come to choir rehearsals as the choir is learning the music and by the way, the cantata is Sunday evening, 08 December.” Not to mention, this would be a performance in my hometown, a small community where I may, or may not, be remembered from childhood. Reality seemed to be getting worse by the minute. How can this be, as I had no experience with writing a narration to a cantata?
Oddly enough, it was in talking with the music director that morning that I began to hear a different voice, That Still Small Voice. The task itself was daunting and most certainly out of my comfort zone. Agreeing to the request was made in shock, of course, but also in awe for I recognized That Still Small Voice. Indeed, this was not Love’s first appearing, asking me to have faith and follow.
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now
Within the next couple of days, I listened and I listened and I listened again to that music CD. The more I listened, the more frightened I became. What had I committed myself to? Choir rehearsals only added to the angst. The more I listened, the more lost I became. Inspiration eluded me and “writer’s block” oppressed me. Ideas came only to disappear and to disintegrate. But there was one song, one element, that the director had pointed out in that first interaction. An excerpt from The Nativity Story would be played on the overhead screens while Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven” was being performed by solo and by the choir.
The more I listened to the song and I watched the video, the more certain I became. Finally a thread of Hope and direction began to weave into my lack of inspiration and began to tailor vision. Still, there were questions and concerns. Curiosity was obvious as choir members noted my presence but were unaware of my assignment. How wise would it be to admit to what I was doing if I failed even to produce suitable copy to the director, much less to the choir and to the church? I had submitted a sample of two possible points of view I could take the narration; his response showed favor and belief in me, but gave no sign of which direction to go.
That Still Small Voice did not go away and I held onto that tiny thread of hope, “for nothing set by God can be impossible”. But then personal adversity distracted me and near obsolete technology failed me, with the blue screen of death swallowing up work done and blocking access even to my printer. All I had available at this point was an e-mail that had been sent to the director of the samples.
Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong, help me be, help me
It was the week of Thanksgiving, with the first dress rehearsal the following week. I was scared of possible failure and angry at circumstances. Pregnant with insecurity yet determined I would not be defeated by obstacle or by foe, I sat down and listened to Breath of Heaven and watched The Nativity Story repeatedly until That Still Small Voice took over all that had cluttered the mind and held captive the soul. Finally, in peace, I could say, “Let it be done through me, according to Your Word”.
Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Indeed, this was not Love’s first appearing, asking me to have faith and follow. Years before in what seems like a lifetime ago when active in a church with a membership larger than the population of my hometown, I was asked to speak at an early Saturday morning meeting. Having not attended these meetings before nor being familiar with the director who made the request, a director who gave me no parameters, I accepted the honor with much naiveté. I stood as an unknown before a crowd of over 200, with a pastor of world renown sitting within three feet of me. That Still Small Voice kept me ignorant of what was to come but overshadowed me with favor and with the words of Truth and of Hope. This Still Small Voice remains faithful and true of this I know to be certain, “for nothing set by God can be impossible”.
Just as the One Who is Love sent Elizabeth alongside Mary to encourage and to walk with her through the journey to which she was called, the One Who is Love also sent my own Elizabeth as encouragement and help in the absence of tools of technology as she formatted and printed from copy sent in e-mail. Words of Truth and of Hope filled the pages in a matter of minutes and was sent off to the director on this 26th day of November.
The evening of 08 December 2013 was a bitterly cold night of wind and rain. The choir and the soloists heralded The Promised Peace, The Promised Hope and The Promised Joy with their voice and the instrumentalists with their instruments. The music directors led with grace and with passion “When Love Gave Birth“. The sanctuary was quiet as the audience listened to That Still Small Voice and then stood in jubilation with The Hallelujah Chorus. That Still Small Voice was celebrated in the sanctuary within my hometown that night.
This Still Small Voice remains faithful and true of this I know to be certain, “for nothing set by God can be impossible”.