Recently a gal came into my life who has a major vocal talent. I love the full alto robustness of her singing voice and the special emphasis she can put just about anywhere in a song to make a verse, an ending phrase come alive. Very few musicians can go way beyond the sheet music and take you with them every note of the way . . . as if you are sharing in all of the emotion and beauty pouring out of the Creator’s expression manifest before you. I love moments like this. I love listening to her sing. Her music gives me goose bumps now and always has done so.
I had the privilege of performing and competing in the top choir at my high school for all of my three years there. Our teacher, Mr. Herr, was an accomplished tenor and pianist who occasionally shared his talent with us when singing the male solos; this included part of Handel’s Messiah one particular Christmas. Before the concert he took a bus load of us teenagers to an old Catholic cathedral in downtown Detroit to sing the choral sections of the work from the balcony as the giant pipe organ accompanied us at full volume. I will never forget that sound! Our voices lifted high as if to touch the vaulted ceilings painted with Biblical scenes that I would not really understand for another decade. My tender frame shook with the majesty, the magnificence of the moment when all the harmonies blended together in perfection. The entire church swelled with the sound of music. What a great experience to carry us through our concert at school shortly thereafter. Well done Mr. Herr!
A fellow choir student told me early in my senior year that the only reason that I made the Chorale was my ability to sight-read written music. The comment was a slam for sure. So my talent wasn’t good enough but somehow my ability to read music made up the difference? I didn’t understand but still was crushed. Regardless, I made every early morning rehearsal, class session, and concert throughout the school year. My mom sewed my blue maxi skirt and plaid outfit herself that all of the girls had to have made for the concerts. And she did make it to the concerts, thankfully. She made a point of telling me, however, that I could do better if I would just open my mouth more when I was singing. Geez. It’s a wonder I made it through my senior year of Chorale after all of that nonsense.
My interest in singing changed as I went off to college with my 3/4-sized classical guitar alongside me. My experience got me two “easy A’s” in beginner piano and guitar classes for creative arts requirements but little else. Playing popular songs and sing-a-longs diminished from gatherings at the beach with girlfriends (who didn’t mind when the music always seemed to bring the guys around with a harmonica or their curiosity!) to sing-a-longs with groups of patients at various psychiatric hospitals in which I worked as an occupational therapist years later. Within a decade I had practically stopped everything altogether and my skills, even my voice, eroded. More recently the serious illness I have been battling has changed my breath volume and vocal cords such that my voice crackles when singing worship songs “in church.” Although I will still crank the stereo and give it a go occasionally when the Barbara Streisand CD just happens to get turned up really loudly when my hubby is away! No, no, ain’t gonna rain on my pa–rade!
So I do have a bit of an ear for quality and musicianship which brings me to the point of this discussion: when a person DOES have a major talent I believe it is a gift from the Lord to be shared openly for His glory. It really bugs me that my new friend has received “pukey” comments from non-talented, envious people around her. I hope she can let them go. We come to faith in Christ and are given spiritual gifts to be used for the Lord’s glory, often showcasing talents or even growing abilities already present in the life of the believer. Whether we use our giftedness directly in ministry or just to inspire others as unto the Lord, I believe that we are to let that goodness shine!
Matthew 5:14-16New International Version (NIV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Especially today for all of us who have a creative ability that stands out from the crowd, my prayer would be that we would stand up, finish the performance out in front of the spaces we are given and win glory for the One Who has entrusted it to our care. Delight in-and-develop our talent, have fun with it, and don’t let the pukeys, the naysayers get us down. Going forth with boldness and confidence may just bring each of us the desires of our hearts which is a good thingy, eh? The Lord may have placed those dreams there, waiting for us to take the next steps He will lead us to and through. Oh how He loves us so . . . which reminds me of a song . . .