Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stepping Out

“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus.

Matthew 14:29
This morning, I played the electric keyboard at church for the very first time. I was part of the worship team that led the singing for the morning’s service. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun while playing the piano or keyboard. I’d been playing for years (mostly on my own) but nothing beats the way worship was, today. For years, I’d also known that I’d be playing just like I did but I just didn’t know exactly when and where. It finally happened at today’s service and I am overjoyed.

Before we became missionaries, Eng and I used to attend Friday night prayer times at our friends’ house just two streets away from where we lived. This goes way back to the early 90s. One night, I received prophetic prayers. My hands were held out in front of me (as I postured myself to receive) and my eyes were closed. Our prayer leader rested his fingers on my left palm and continued to pray. Involuntarily, my left hand suddenly started to go up and shake uncontrollably! This went on for a few seconds until the shaking slowed and stopped and my hand finally descended on my lap. Because I was being prayed for, it never occurred to me to stop my hand. I probably could have stopped it from shaking but I didn't want to. Far from frightening me, the experience excited me. It seemed like my mind was just a second or two away from what was going on. By the time it began to sink in my brain that my hand was shaking by itself, it stopped. Then, as the thought began to form in my head, “What about my right hand?” there it was, already shaking and doing exactly what my other hand did. When my right hand finally rested on my other lap, the first and only thing I could think of was, “Now, I know, I can play.” I knew the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, touched my hands and made them shake. I also knew I could then begin to play the piano. Up until then, I’d always played the same pieces that I’d memorized by rote (like the theme song from “The Sting”). In my life, I might have had a summer or two of piano lessons but that was it. I enjoyed playing however, so I used to finger the melody of songs with my right hand. I never knew how to play and what to do with my left hand until that time of prayer. After that night, the same prayer leader taught me about chords and so I did begin to play with both hands.

For the next 20+ years, I played mostly at home and hardly ever publicly. I didn’t have the nerve to play anywhere else! I didn’t think I was good enough to play with trained people. It was only because I was here on my own over the summer and had more free time that I thought I’d give it a try and find out if I could play at church. Last Thursday, I attended the worship practice and I struggled. I actually wondered if they’d fire me for not playing well enough. =) They asked me not to play the melody with my right hand but that’s all it knew to do since childhood! I was in trouble and frustrated. This morning, our pastor actually talked about how it is in the frustrating environments that we are more fruitful. He said faith takes us beyond where we’re comfortable to a new place. In the passage above, Peter left his place of comfort to a new type of shaky surface. But yes, he couldn’t stand on the water until he was off the boat! I didn't realize it but from Thursday onwards, as I practiced and trained my right hand to play a variation of the chords instead of the melody, it was new territory for me. And playing at church was also my actual stepping out to a new environment. In both cases, I’m glad I, in effect, stepped off the boat and stood on the water. I would not have known the joy and exhilaration of playing and worshipping with a crowd of people. What a thrill it is!

This morning, I also woke up to a line of a song that repeatedly played in my head. It was “He (the Lord) shall reign forever.” When I heard it, I knew the Lord was going to reign over the whole worship time. I knew I could be confident that it’ll turn out well because how else would it be if He was the one reigning? He’s too good to let it be otherwise. And this was affirmed by what the pastor said that our confidence should not be on the journey but on the living God. Yes!

Thank you, Lord, for the new challenges you gave me and that you actually prompted me to “Come.” Amen to that. Bless you!

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