I call it Grace
California Sunset in the Whittier Hills photo taken by Kathryn Bassette
I call it grace to live. I call it grace to find satisfaction in the present. I call it grace to watch the sun go down from Whittier hills in California. All good things come from God’s grace (and even the trials of life…but I’ll not go into that now) and with so many reflections tumbling in my mind I call it grace to sit still and think upon all the great and difficult moments that have sprung up one after the other like a field of lilies in spring time.
The thing I most reflect on now is the symphony of my life—of how God conducts my symphony. He stands before me radiant and majestic like the sun of California. His kind expressions comfort my nerves as I stand beside a grand piano looking out into the vast expanse of people. He calls my attention to his eyes and cues me to sit at the piano. I know the music that swims in my mind and the notes that will flow from it into my arms running down into my hands and dripping out onto the ivory keys below my outstretched arms, but I still tremble. I wait for my cue, how I fear disappointing Him.
He simply smiles and with his hands moves the air in a rhythmic 4/4 rhythm, His hands crisscrossing over one another like He is weaving something beautiful. In truth He is weaving the story of my life though I do not realize it.
On the fourth beat I begin, and the entire world seems to stop and listen. His hands continue, and very soon He reaches up and taps the air only to cause a burst of strings to intertwine with my notes. I gasp as my fingers continue across the keys. I did not know anything could sound so beautiful. He taps the air again, and a wave of deep rhythmic drumming pulses in the same rhythmic, invisible, design that my master orchestrates.
All this time my eyes have focused on his hands and face, but I drop my eyes for a moment untrusting that my fingers will spread in the right way and fearful that I will strike the wrong key, and by dropping my eyes I stumble. My fingers trip over all the wrong keys. I look up afraid to see his disapproving face but see Him smiling. His hands still move in the most beautiful motion despite my stumble. We continue and soon I am lost in His motion. I no longer think about what keys I must press. This symphony I play is not about me, but about my complete and utter admiration and love for the conductor who stands before me with perfect grace and perfect timing with each perfect motion of His outstretched arms.
Suddenly both arms rise in a moment of an intense musical torrent like the heavy, rapid drops of rain. So in tune am I with Him, I do not realize the improvising that spews like fire from my fingers. Softly, caressingly, majestically He slows me down and pulls me in closer and nearer and softer to the keys below me, so soon very soon the final chord echoes around the music hall. My head bows. My fingers tip forward. My arms lift heavenward, and my eyes close to see his smiling, proud, face locked in my memory.
The hall erupts with applause, but I hear and feel nothing from the audience. I only feel grace shown to me by my Lord and Master. I messed up and yet He is still proud of me. What kind of crazy grace is that? He covered for my trip and hid it from the audience. What kind of crazy grace is that? He steps forward to me before bowing to the audience and takes both my hands to lift me up. What kind of crazy gracious conductor is this? He wants me to face the audience with Him. I can’t deserve it, can I?
A woman from the audience lays a bouquet of roses in my arms, and I transfer them into the arms of my master. All the praise and glory, He deserves. We stand and greet each member of the audience and when we are finally alone, He seats me and tells me my story. Like He interprets the music, He explains that the performance is my life.
“Mija, are you quite happy now?”
“Yes, Lord. Quite happy.”
“Mija, why are you happy?”
“Because I am sitting beside you.”
“You are not scared anymore?”
“Why did you doubt me?”
I sobbed. “I was afraid.”
Taking my hands, he tips my face to His and says, “Let me explain something to you.”
This is the story He told me.
The symphony we play is our life. The moment we step on stage is a new experience, a new adventure, but as every performer knows whether on the track, at the piano, or in front of a large audience, we do what we do to please. Who we please is of utmost importance. We go through life meeting new people, experiencing the joys and sorrows, falling into unexpected situations and saying yes or no to new opportunities. I stumbled because I lost sight of my conductor’s guidance. Yet even so, He covered for my mistakes and still delighted to present me to the world. The woman who presented me with roses is someone who touched my life. She opened up opportunities for me that made my life all the more beautiful—opportunities to say yes. I meet those people every day and it is up to me to allow them to influence my life. Every day we meet people, and we have opportunities to point them to the true performer and master–God. Life with God, the orchestrator of our lives, is so much better and more joyful than trying to force our way through life attempting to perform and gain the respect of others. Living this way does not promise that our performance will be well received. Even living to glorify the Lord does not promise glory on earth or an audience that will receive us well, but it is better. The experience itself of playing beautiful music is what we do every day with our lives. Life is music.
As I live each day, I look for the opportunities. I open my eyes to see God’s face. I don’t need to look far nor does anybody else broken and distressed and fearful. Chances are he is standing right beside you waiting for you to acknowledge Him, waiting to give you His attention and tell you your story, ready to weave the pain and suffering you feel into something warm and comforting like a beautiful blanket, and chances are He will even wrap His arms around you in that blanket for extra warmth. Chances are there are no chances. The truth is He will compose your story if you let Him.