Several weeks ago I was asked if I would be the organist for our upcoming stake conference. Yes, of course! I love the feeling that comes when leading a large congregation at the organ. The power that comes through their singing inspires and adds strength to my music, which encourages more singing, which inspires me further…and so on, and so on.
With all the great organists we have in our stake, I was very pleased (and surprised) that I had been invited to participate this time. And what added more to my joy was that the hymn selection was a great lineup of bold hymns, all of them begging for an awesome, let all the stops out, last verse arrangement. Furthermore, the meeting would be held at the new Provo YSA building that houses a brand-spanking new, state of the art, 3-manual Johannus organ with digital settings that change an American Classic organ into a French Romantic or German Baroque. Ahh, just think of the fun I could have with prelude & postlude. This was going to be organist heaven!
But (and there’s always a ‘but’) as I sat in front of the console yesterday, trying to get acquainted with this, uh, digital monster, I panicked. Who am I to be doing this? I thought. This is way more instrument than my familiar little 9-rank Wicks. Why did they ask me to do this? Why not Ruth Ann or Kyle or any of those other really good organists?
And then (gratefully there’s always an ‘and then’ too!) two things came to my mind.
First, one of those ‘inspirational thought’ emails that has been circulating for years. It’s the one that points out many of the faithful men and women that God worked with in spite of their human-ness. You’ve probably read it at some point in your life, but here it is again:
Noah was a drunk. Abraham was too old. Isaac was a day dreamer. Jacob was a liar. Leah was ugly. Joseph was abused. Moses stuttered. Gideon was insecure. Samson had long hair and was a womanizer. Rahab was the town prostitute. Jeremiah and Timothy were considered too young to be useful in the ministry. David had an affair. Elijah was depressed and suicidal. Isaiah preached the Word of God while naked. Jonah ran away from God. Naomi was a widow. Job went bankrupt and lost everything. John the Baptist ate bugs. Peter denied Christ. The Disciples fell asleep while they were praying. Martha was a worrier. The Samaritan woman at the well was divorced…many times. Zaccheus was too small. Paul was too religious. Timothy had a stomach ulcer. And Lazarus was dead. Yet God used them all…even the dead Lazarus!
Then second, Elder Eyring’s counsel from October 2002 General Conference came to my mind:
There will be times when you will feel overwhelmed. One of the ways you will be attacked is with the feeling that you are inadequate. Well, you are inadequate to answer a call to represent God with only your own powers. But you have access to more than your natural capacities, and you do not work alone.
The Lord will magnify what you say and what you do in the eyes of the people you serve…What you say and do will carry hope and give direction to people far beyond your natural abilities and your own understanding.
Okay. I get the point. God does not let a little human inadequacy stand in His way. We can’t “stump” God. When we are less than our best selves He doesn’t look at us and say “Oh…hmm…well I didn’t know that was going to happen. Nothing I can do now!”
That’s not how He works. God is there for us. Always. He stands ready to help. We just need to ask.
The bottom line? Playing a larger instrument in stake conference is somewhat new territory for me. I feel inadequate. That’s okay. We all are in some way. God doesn’t need people who claim to be the best, only people who are willing to let God work with them and bring out His best.