Not long before my paternal grandmother passed away at the age of 93, she told my dad that she had been waking up with a song in her heart, of which she looked for the lesson of the day.
Music was such a huge part of her life, singing in the church choir for decades, and traveling the globe with the Ohio Valley Chorale. Music was her avenue to God and the lessons He had to teach.
I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
At the age of seven I began my journey in the musical world. I’d eventually go on to play violin, clarinet, tenor saxophone, and steel drums. Music awakens something inside of me. It makes me feel alive. Just like my sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence, music gives me goosebumps.
A few years ago I had the honor of assisting my paternal grandma as she continued to age and decline in her day to day activities. The two of us were not particularly close, but we shared a love for NCIS (the original, though we would was NCIS: Los Angeles if we were desperate), and she would freely admit that Abby was her favorite. We both shared a sweet tooth and of course, a love for music.
Some evenings, when we’d watched all of the NCIS episodes we could find, we’d turn on Comcast’s 400s and find a music station to sit and listen to. Sometimes we’d talk, but other times we’d just allow the music to fill the apartment.
I remember one evening, as I finished up washing dishes from dinner, she asked aloud, “Why am I still here?”
She’d gotten frustrated with her failing eye sight and shaky hands and spilled some of her dinner on her shirt. Through tears welling in my eyes, I managed to tell her, “Grandma, He’s got plans for you. There’s still time left.”
Once she moved to an assisted living facility, we’d remind each other that He had big plans for both of us. And so after she passed this April, I began waking up with a song in my heart. For a few weeks it was My Story by Big Daddy Weave, but eventually drifted into To Live is Christ by Sidewalk Prophets.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
—Philippians 1:21, ESV
I cannot listen to this latter song without finding my hands in the air and tears streaming down my face. The chorus just reaches in and grabs a hold of something inside of me.
“My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place You chose for me
This is the place You chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time You gave to me
This is the time You gave to me”
I discovered a part of these plans that Grandma and I talked about. I wasn’t looking for a new job. I love the people I work with, but another position found me. Last week, I went for an interview for a position with a lofty title, at an outreach ministry organization in a rural town about 30 minutes from my home. I prayed Proverbs 3:5-6 and listened to Lauren Daigle’s CD on my way to the interview, to remind myself to trust in whatever path He had for me.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.
—Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT
With this scripture and Lauren’s song, Trust in You, still ringing in my ears, I walked into the fellowship hall of the church where my interview was to be, and faced a picture of Jesus with the words, Trust in the Lord, written plainly at the bottom. And so I did.
After a battery of grueling questions before a panel of six, I felt at peace with whatever decision they made. But the phone call I received a week later, while driving home after dinner with some friends, was the invitation for a different kind of peace and coming home. Once again, I decided to trust His path.
Starting August 15th, I will be the Executive Director of Epworth Center in Bethesda, Ohio. Lofty title and big shoes to fill, but this is the place He chose for me.
So I will continue to sing the song in my heart, just like Grandma, and trust in His promises.
“If I rise, let me rise on You
Not on all my successes
My esteem or my pursuits
If I lose, let me lose my life
Cause if I belong to Jesus
The flesh is crucified
For me to live is Christ
To die is gain”