The Gift of Music: A Glimpse of His Glory

Music is a Fair and Glorious Gift of God.” – Martin Luther

The Tennessee tots are in town! We have two little granddaughters who live nearby, but our other two little ones live across the country and we miss them terribly. We were delighted when our daughter asked us to babysit for the weekend so she and her husband could enjoy a much-needed getaway.

On Saturday morning, Jeff and I set out without too much of an agenda other than to wear these little ones out with fun. As we headed toward San Diego, I prayed for safety, protection, and divine appointments.

Then I added one more request: I asked our Father to give us eyes to see his glory on display in unexpected ways and in unexpected places.

Morning Songs

Our first stop was a visit to the magnificent new, nine-story central library. The children’s library, decorated with brightly colored Dr. Seuss characters—a nod to San Diego’s own Ted Geisel—was the setting for a morning concert. Given the location and time of day, we expected a kiddie concert that would likely feature sing-alongs of nursery rhymes or Raffi tunes by performers wearing primary colors and big smiles.

The smiles were the only part we got right.

Jazz Singer/Songwriter Steph Johnson & husband, Rob

Jazz singer/songwriter Steph Johnson and her husband, upright bassist Rob Thorsen beamed appreciatively at each other as they performed originals and standards highlighting her powerful, soulful, fluid vocals. Their improvisation was lovely in its complexity and their collaboration was seamless. They played their hearts out for a sparse crowd that consisted of a few adults trying to simultaneously keep an eye on their rambunctious children and enjoy the world-class performance we were being treated to. It was beyond beautiful. It was inspiring.

Steph and Rob, radiating love for both the music and the people who had gathered to enjoy it, honored their audience by giving it their all, despite the hour, the location, and the small size of the summer crowd.

I kept thinking,“What a gift!” Each had a truly unique musical gift that had been fanned into flame by years of practice and hard work.

God’s Gift, God’s Glory

Music Bassics by Linda Mullen

The artist we call gifted because of his or her talent and skill also has a gift to bestow on their audience. Steph and Rob’s time and talent were poured out as generous gifts for all who were privileged to be there that morning.

God is honored when we take the musical talent he places in us and we work at developing it for the benefit and enjoyment of others.This is one of the important ways we can give God glory. We honor him when we take our gifting seriously. I believe he smiles at the diverse sounds of the instrumental and vocal music he hears rising from all the parts of the the earth. Music is his gift to his children, and it is a gift they give back to him.

Music: A Gift to Give and Receive

Steph’s charisma and warmth are as brilliant offstage as onstage. As we spoke, she shared with me about her passion to provide hope and help to the homeless in our community. As one of the founders of the Voices of Our City Choir, Steph uses her musical gifts to bring honor to the members of our society who receive it least and need it most. Their mission statement:

“Voices of Our City Choir is committed to transforming the perception and experience of homelessness through the healing power of the arts. We are building bridges connecting diverse communities in positive ways through musical performance, advocacy, and education.”

The choir, an independent community effort without religious affiliation, meets once a week, is open to all, and provides a safe place for those living on the streets to enjoy food, fellowship, and the untold benefits of shared singing of songs of hope, peace, and love.

As I am watching Steph’s face light up when she tells me about her work with the city’s homeless, the words of Jesus come to mind:

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40).

 

Songs of Hope Ease Life’s Transitions

I had asked God to allow me to experience something significant that day. I wanted to see the glory of God on display that morning.

He answered my prayer when he gave me the gift of hearing and meeting Steph and Rob. As servants of the poor, they inspire us by their humility in going to the streets, in sitting eye to eye with those who are down on their luck and inviting them to find rest, community, and inspiration through the gift of music. They are pouring out their lives and talents seeking to improve the lives of those who have nothing to give in return but love and gratitude.

The people they have come to know as friends are in the throes of some of life’s hardest transitions. Not all are on the street as a result of bad choices or substance abuse—the kinds of personal tragedies and hardship that have brought them to this point are as varied as the men, women, and children whose spirits are lifted as they begin to sing songs of hope as part of this community choir. When we face difficult transitions we can remember the power of music to encourage and strengthen us. It connects us with God, with each other, and with our own soul.

That morning the glory wasn’t in the rich hues of the sun rising over the water. It was in the story of soulful songs rising from the streets, giving dignity and purpose to those Jesus calls us to love and serve.

What a gift. What amazing grace.


The artwork used in this post is the original work of GIFTED watercolorist Linda Mullen
See more about the Voices of Our City Choir at voicesofourcity.org.

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