Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Walking on Water

July 15, 2009

While listening to classical piano the other day, I was transported back to 13 years of piano lessons on Tuesday with Mrs. Leming in her antebellum home. For just a second I pretended it was me in one of the many dreaded recitals. Mrs. Leming (who adored me) always said I had great talent if I could just keep my head out of the clouds. I was always second from the last in the recital, meaning I was always second to Becky, the best pianist I have ever known. I am sure Becky went on to greatness – she could have been the one on the radio. What happened to me? Before I could wonder about that too much, my cell phone rescued me. Ironically it was a friend asking me if I would play the piano for a funeral of a man who had left the world with no family and few friends. She assured me I was qualified. I felt so convicted I said yes on the spot.

It was a simple service for the man I will call Bill. Bill’s employer and friend for many years organized a fitting tribute to his faithful employee and friend. He told of his dependability and his strong work ethic and his love of coaching children. But he surprised the audience with sharing something that even he had just discovered. While sorting through his belongings, the employer ran across some poetry that Bill had written. Looking further, he discovered that Bill had sent his poetry off and had paid a music company to put it to music. He played one of the songs for us – it was all about the places where one finds God. It was beautiful and touching. Bill had not written just one, but several lengthy poems that I am sure one day will become a book.

It was like an unopened gift that had been wrapped for too long. It was a present from Bill, opened at his memorial service, telling us about the many places we can discover God. Obviously, Bill had found God and knew him well. And I wondered what might have been for Bill, had he allowed his gift of poetry to be heard while he was living. And then I looked at my own hands and wondered the same thing.

Each of us has gifts and talents that are to be used. It’s called purpose. For a variety of reasons, many of them never get outside of our dreams, but are tucked somewhere in our self-consciousness, afraid to go the distance, afraid to work hard, afraid to commit, afraid to fail, even afraid to succeed. We get busy and distracted with life, wondering what our purpose really is, and allow the daily routine to take us to boredom and stagnation. In reading the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get out of the Boat, the boat is defined as “whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God himself. Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put your trust in, especially when life gets a little stormy…it is whatever keeps you so comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it keeps you from the high adventure of walking on water, being in God’s perfect will for your life.”

Yes, there is much risk. But there is also much reward. We will never know until we step out in faith, trusting that inner nudging planted in our soul that excites us and makes us feel alive – the peace that goes beyond understanding. I can tell you my piano offering that day was very simple but I felt alive. I was humbled, knowing that there was more in me somewhere, but the risk outweighed the reward and I stayed safely in my boat. But I think it must have been exhilarating for Bill as he listened to his poetry in song for the first time in public. This was his time and I had the privilege of watching him get out of his boat and walk on the water. What an honor. What an inspiration. What a message.

Thanks, Bill.

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