"If I didn't have__________, then I would _______________."
Have you ever tried to fill in the blanks in the sentence above? If you haven't, or even if you have and it has been a while, I invite you to do so. Fill in the blanks with the first things that come to mind, and then allow yourself to reflect for a few minutes.
If you need some food for thought, might I suggest the following questions: "Are my answers in line with the calling God has placed on my life?", "Is there something in my life that needs to change because of my answers?"
Maybe your answer startled you a bit, and you spent the next few moments trying to take back what you thought. "Surely, I'm not THAT out of line. I didn't really fully comprehend what I was being asked. I didn't have time to think it through..." Perhaps, like me, you found God pointing to yet another idol and misplaced priority in your life. Let me be the first to encourage you that this is a good thing. In order for Him to have first place, this is something that needs to happen. The pruning hurts, but nothing can compare with closeness to the Good Shepherd of our souls.
This semester has been a busy one, like the others that preceded it. I'm enjoying teaching Piano 1, and my private lessons are going well. The middle of March brought us to another very successful Music Festival. During this week, we invite judges from outside of BFA to come and hear all of our private lesson students. Although playing for a judge can be nerve-wracking, our students overcame, and a lot of great teaching and learning happened. I was inspired as I watched other teachers work with my students.
This semester also brought more emotional weight than I anticipated. I've always been careful with my hands and wrists, I've worked hard to avoid tension while I play. However at the end of January, I found myself barely able to move my right hand side to side or move my fingers without shooting pain. The pain persisted whether I was playing or not. I took some time and didn't touch a piano for a week. When you're a piano teacher, or anyone who uses their hands on a regular basis, this is really difficult! In the middle of March, the pain returned, this time in my right wrist and thumb, and just in time for Music Festival. In a nutshell, I've taken several breaks from playing and am seeing an excellent Orthopaedic doctor here in Germany. The pain is currently much less, and on some days non-existent. We are monitoring the pain, and if [when] it spikes again, I'm going to return to the doctor. God is our master-craftsman, and so I trust Him completely for whatever is going on in my body. Often, I wish the pain would just go away. But then, what would I learn? I've taken to searching the words "Right Hand" in different concordances and on my Bible app, and it has shown me even more of our incredible God.
As Your name, O God,
so Your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
You have given me the shield of Your salvation,
and Your right hand supported me,
and Your gentleness made me great.
Nevertheless, I am continually with You;
You hold my right hand.
There are so many other verses along similar lines, but these exemplify much of what I have learned. In first two verses we see His right hand upholding, defending, and guiding. We are feeble human beings, and no matter how high and mighty we may feel some days, we are simply not capable of making it on our own. His right hand is often referred to as "righteous", and I am eternally grateful. My hands are flawed, but His are not. And I can trust them, and Him, completely. His right hand also supports us. And not only when I feel I need it, but ALL the time. Dear friends, we are simply incapable of making it on our own. My hands have felt so weak, but He and His are unendingly strong. When I feel shooting pain in mine, I think of the awful agony He suffered when He took punishment meant for me, and made peace with God for me. What love!
The last verse above gives me particular comfort. My hand that feels so weak and fragile is held in the hands of the Almighty God, my Comforter. He knows, He cares, and He has not lost control. Even now it brings tears to my eyes to think of His care for and compassion on me. My friends, while the things I share with you are far from glamorous, this is God's work, done in His way and timing.
So how did you answer the question at the beginning of the post? To be honest, this is what came to my mind: "If I couldn't play piano, I would die." Yikes. As I sat in church that morning, in pain, and with my wrist firmly wrapped, I slowly realised that my heart had once again wandered. I've done a lot of practicing and work with my own technique this year, and once again I had become too attached to my own abilities. My skills are never my own, and as much as I may enjoy them and find fulfilment in them, they always belong to Him. I'm learning, and I hope that you are as well. I pray that as He leads me through this that I will be increasingly usable to Him. It is a joy to serve with our Lord and King. He is risen indeed.
Finally, I am always praying for more financial and prayer partners. If God moves you to partner with me in these ways, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can talk further. To all of you who continue to support me in both of these ways, I want to once again say that it is an honour and a privilege to partner with you! God is at work, and you are a huge part of that! Thank you!