Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Something I've Been Pondering On.

My family and I attend a small church out in the middle of the country. There are about thirty people in the congregation with the majority of it being older couples who have a burning desire to serve the Lord. They are very dear and precious folks who have been wonderful examples to us.
Two Sundays ago, my Mom and I were approached about helping out with the music for the next several Sundays, as our main pianist needed to take some time to rest and recuperate after surgery. This meant that Momma would become the pianist and I would continue to play my French Horn; not a real big change but a change that has us both 'on our toes' to be prepared for piano related sight-reading!

This past Sunday morning was the first day for us... everything went well and the hymns that were sung were so encouraging! As we moved in to the offertory and the special music part of the service I laid my horn aside, picked up the hymn book I had brought with me, and sat down at the piano. The organist and I were to play the offertory together and then I was on for the special music. I was nervous. We don't rehearse beforehand. I'm playing multiple notes and using multiple fingers at one time. I was in a nervous sweat and my hands were slick. I had not had a chance to go over the special that I was to be playing. Granted it was a hymn that I knew well, but having a chance to run through it before-hand helps one feel more confident. I was in a position that my piano teacher had told me about on numerous occasions and attempted to prepare me for.

As I sat there listening to one of the dear older men stand and thank the Lord for the young people in our church and the talents that each one has, my mind was drawn to how the Lord will use a person if they will allow themselves to be used. How much of a blessing and encouragement they can be to others if they would just be willing to give of themselves. How one plays, whether the person performing thinks it's good or bad, doesn't matter as it can be a huge blessing to those listening and will bring honor and glory to the Lord.

As I sat there thinking about this, I realized that it didn't really matter if I was nervous before playing; what mattered was my heart attitude. Was I doing this grudgingly/unwillingly or with a heart that truly sought the Lords' honor and glory through what I was going to be playing. It wasn't that long ago that I would not have been caught dead playing the offertory let alone the special... I didn't think I was good enough (and I still think that), knew that I would mess up, and be so nervous that I wouldn't be able to play the hymn right. But I finally came to the point where I realized that my ability to play the piano and french horn are God given gifts; I shouldn't keep them to myself but instead be willing to use them.

As I pondered these thoughts, I began to ask the Lord to help me convey the message of the hymn as I played. I wanted the focus to be on the Lord and not on me. Yes, I'll admit that I asked Him for a calm heart and hands as I played, but my focus was not on how 'well' I was going to play but on the message of the hymn truly being conveyed. Once I began to play, to feel the solid keys under my fingers, and to hear the words of one of my favorite hymns resound through the room "He leadeth me, oh blessed thought! Oh words with heav'nly comfort fraught..." I knew that no matter how 'bad' my playing was, the Lord was still going to be glorified.

So now you may be asking, "what's the purpose of this rambly post?"... Well, I remember what it was like to be asked to play for a song service (as in 'congregational singing', offertory, and possibly special) or offertory, and the thick ribbon of nervousness that would streak through my system for days or weeks in advance. I couldn't play like the main pianist did or like the others who had these big magnificent offertories, but I could play and that was all that was needed and asked of.

I suppose the point of this post is to encourage any 'players of the piano' (or any other instrument for that matter) like me, to be willing to let the Lord use your talent instead of hiding it. Yes, it's difficult and nerve wracking at first to step out of your comfort zone and play in front of others, but once you take the first step the following ones become easier. When you know that you are going to be playing (this could be days, weeks, or moments before) begin asking the Lord to be your strength at that time. Ask Him to help you convey the message of the hymn, to focus on giving Him the honor and glory instead of seeking your own, and to speak to you through this time.

May we truly seek to use our lives to honor and glorify the Lord!


Anonymous said...

Dear Ashley,

What a wonderful and encouraging post this was! It reminded me of similar situations that I have experienced through the years. When we take our focus off of ourselves and put it on the Lord and how we can best glorify Him, He truly helps to do our best! What a great opportunity for you to give Him glory through the musical talents that He has given you. I really appreciate you sharing this and hope that it will encourage others to share their talents!

Mrs. Pelc

Ashley Sebo said...

Dearest Ashley,
Thank you, for this post! It was SO encouraging! This last Sunday, I experienced somewhat of the same feelings you expressed! I really appreciate this!

It is so neat to see how the Lord can use us, if we will only let Him! Thank you for the encouragement and challenge! I know exactly how you felt!

Thank you!


Ashley said...

Thank you for your very encouraging comment, Mrs. Pelc! It was such a blessing to me!

As I sit here the phrase of a hymn comes to mind... "where He leads I cannot fall". This fits in perfectly with what you had said about taking the focus off of ourselves and putting it on the Lord. We may 'fall' in mans estimation, but if we are doing it for the Lord's honor and glory and in His strength, we won't 'fall'. I'm so thankful that we have the Lord as our strength and guide!
Thank you Mrs. Pelc!

Ashley said...

Thank you for your encouraging words Ashley S.!! They were a blessing to me!

Rose said...

When we make music to glorify our Lord~He smiles! I know what you mean about being a little nervous in front of the church~I play the flute and as soon as I get up to play in church I just freeze! God has given you the courage and I bet you did just great~God bless, Rose(homeschooling mom)

Sarah said...

Thank you so much, Ashley, for sharing this post. I really, really appreciated it. This is something that I often struggle with, and what you shared here is an excellent reminder to me. The music is not for myself – it is for the Lord. It should be played not with a view of “will others like it?”, “what will they think of my playing?”, etc., but our desire should be that the music will draw others’ hearts to the Lord and that it will bring glory to Him. Our talents, whether it be in music or elsewhere, are not for our own glory, but should be used willingly and joyfully with the sole purpose of edifying others and glorifying the Lord . . . what a wonderful calling that is!!

How wonderful it is that you and your Momma are able and willing to share music with the folks at your church! What a blessing it will be to all of them!

Thank you once again for sharing this post . . . not only was it a great encouragement to me, but I also was very blessed by hearing your ‘heart’ and hearing what the Lord has been teaching you. Much wisdom was in this post, Ashley, and my heart was convicted! Thank you!

Lydia W. said...


Thank you so much for this post!!! It was quite an encouragement to me, and I know that it was something the Lord wanted me to hear tonight. I will be playing piano for a small recital at my piano teacher's house tommorrow evening, and I am not sure of the salvation of all of the student's who will be there. I am playing a couple different hymns, and I know the Lord can use that in all of the student's lives. (Including my own!)

I have also been asked to play the piano for church in the near future. I would alternate Sundays and play every third Sunday for congregational singing. I have been so nervous to do this and have almost hoped that it doesn't work out! Something that was shared at camp this past week, is that we can only see a short distance in front of us. We see only to the next trial, difficulty, or trying situation. But God sees so much further than we do!! He sees everything that will happen as a result of what seems to us to be our very trying or difficult situations. If we only trust Him, we know that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

I am always so nervous to play in front of others, that I often forget that God is the one who gave me the talents in the first place! If God gave me the talent, He will also use my playing for His honor and glory, if I let Him. Thank you for this reminder!!

~Lydia W.

Ashley said...

Thank you for your comment, Rose! I really appreciate it!

Sarah, I have by no means attained the focus that I was talking about in this post. It's a constant day by day, opportunity by opportunity struggle... I was 'preaching' to myself as I typed it up.

The Lord gives us the grace to serve Him with our talents and I've found that as I trust Him during these times He will change my focus from being self-centered to being Christ-centered. I'm so glad that the Lord will and does work in our lives... even when we cannot see it!

It sure sounds like the Lord is bringing opportunities your way, Lydia!! That's neat! I'll be praying for you this evening...

You are so right... we can only see the small picture and wonder how this will play out in our lives or 'why me???!'. But the Lord has a plan and a purpose in it all... the Lord knows what is best for His children and will not give them anything that they are not able to 'handle'. We serve a good God, Lydia!

Lydia W. said...


Thank you very much for your prayers!!! As it turned out, there were only three people at the recital... me, Christian, and Alyssa. The other students were all either sick or just didn't show up. It was a nice evening of talking with our piano teacher, though. :)

Yes, we do serve a good God!!!