People are still talking about Debra Saylor's five minutes of quiet glory. "My hair was standing straight up when she played Clair de lune," says Ron Roberts, a Huntsville, Ala., cyber-librarian who, along with Ms. Saylor, played in the 2000 International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs in Fort Worth. "I could not breathe when she finished."
Claude Debussy's dreamy little piece is one of the best-known in the piano repertory. But Ms. Saylor made it unimaginably new – daringly slow, extravagantly free, as if made up on the spot. At the end, the audience in Texas Christian University's Ed Landreth Auditorium sat in stunned silence, and then hands were divided between explosive applause and dabbing at moist eyes.
This transcendent performance of a piece about moonlight came from a woman who has never seen it. The audience gasped when she tapped her way to the piano with a cane and ran her hands over the keys before playing.
Ms. Saylor is blind. She's been blind since birth, 40 years ago. "There was not enough energy getting to the optic nerve," she says. "Something was blocking the nerve. They don't know why, and the optic nerve is the least researched in the body.
"But that's OK, because I wouldn't care to see anyway." (Source: Scott Cantrell/The Dallas Morning News, June 4, 2002)
Ms. Saylor has successfully challenged the odds and fought life's battles in the darkness for 40 years.
During the time David was King of Israel, his greatest battles were against the dreaded Philistines. Had it not been for the courage of Abishai, David would have been struck down by Ishbi-Benob. After that close encounter, David's army spoke to him saying, "Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished." (2nd Samuel 21:17)
Although they regarded him as the "Lamp of Israel," David knew better. He knew that without the favor of Jehovah, Israel's greatest king would lead blindly and rule without power. "You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light," he said. (2nd Samuel 22:29) Beloved, you need not walk through life blindly. Seek the Lord and He will direct your path and enlighten you. Then you will experience the awesome favor of God as did King David.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, open my eyes so that I can see clearly; I delight in Your ways, O Lord. Give me Your shield of victory; destroy the foe of doubt and fear. "Arm me with strength and make my way perfect," not to receive the applause of men, but to walk with You now and forevermore.
Bill was a truck driver who worked hard and didn't need God until he fainted next to the truck one day. He was sixty years old. Bill and his wife went to church that next week and you could tell that they weren't just window-shopping. They joined a disciple group. Bill had never prayed and didn't know Adam from Eve, but he was genuinely curious and when people treated his questions seriously; he was hooked on the Bible study. And then one night, he decided to pray for the first time.
He never looked back. That disciple group decided to take a Mission trip to Kentucky and Bill volunteered to drive. As the pastor was leaving that church to go to another field of service, Bill asked if he could take him out to breakfast. They got over to the restaurant and he looked at his pastor and said, "I've got to thank you because I was in trouble when I came to church. I never even figured church would help, and thought the roof would fall in on the day I visited. But I was surprised and the last couple of years have been the time of my life."
Beloved, many of you are involved in Bible Study groups at your churches and places of employment. People come to you with wounds inflicted by health, society and family chaos. Embrace them as you would your own children. Let them know how much God cares about their needs. But you can do more than minister to those who seek you out, you can go find them and share the best news they have ever heard. That's what a disciple is.
Andrew witnessed to his brother Simon. Philip found Nathanael and witnessed to him about Jesus. Generally, a witness is needed to help others "see" Jesus. You cannot adequately follow Jesus without also extending the invitation to others.
Bill and his pastor didn't know, but he had terminal cancer even at that breakfast and he wasn't going to see another year out. He had gone 60 years without God and then turned into a new guy who was having the time of his life. Don't wait to be a disciple.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when you spoke to Moses from the bush, he wasn't ashamed to ask You to give the job to someone else.He said, "I can't speak very well, and they won't believe me."I hear your call of discipleship and answer, "Why me?" And Your response is always the same, "Why not?" Give me holy boldness and unconditional grace to overcome both my fears and my prejudices, so that I may become the mentor You expect me to be. Amen and amen.
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."
(Revelation 5:12 NASB)
Worthy. The word means deserving… fully deserving of a suitable reward for what a person has done.
Jesus willingly gave up heaven.When He came to this lowly earth, He was humiliated, rejected, persecuted, betrayed, horribly tortured and killed. He did all of that just for you… so that you might receive the free gift of eternal life.
What is He worthy to receive from you in return?
He will receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing regardless of what you do – He is crowned King of Kings and all knees will eventually bow to Him.
What is He worthy to receive from you now?
When Jesus was asked “Which is the greatest commandment?” He replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Is He worthy of receiving your love with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind?If so, are you giving Him all your love; or, are you holding back some of that love for yourself?We hold back our love every time we use harsh words toward another or when we place our own comfort and desires above the needs of others.Our attitudes, the tone of our voices and the harsh scowling looks on our faces keep part of our love trapped inside and does not allow it to be shared with those around us… or with Jesus.
Remember what else Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Implicit in this simple statement is the key to giving Him all our love.
We must first love ourselves (which means we must forgive ourselves for past mistakes).We must admit that we are sinners, but forgiven sinners!Forgiven sinners who still sometimes fall; but, whom the love of Jesus allows to get up again when we fall.
When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we accept His love for us and it’s that love that we must share with our neighbors.Sharing His love changes our attitudes, the tone of our voices and the look on our faces.Our love – His love – is no longer trapped inside but is freed to flow to all around us.Then and only then can we say, “I love You Lord, with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind; because… You are worthy”
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but byMe.”
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.But one thing I do:Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (Phil 3:13-15)
I am one of those travelers who always takes more than is needed on a trip.Unnecessary baggage is what they call it.For sure, I always take enough with me and usually bring back more unworn clothes than those I wear while away.There must be a name for a person like that... compulsive packer? uncertain traveler?Whatever the name I think I know the motive for it.I am afraid that I will leave something behind which I will need on the journey.Do you know folks like that too?
The apostle Paul had me in mind when he spoke of life's journey.All those things of the past, both good and evil, seem to follow me into tomorrow.The good things I carry tend to make the future seem brighter than it really is, and the bad things I drag along makes me pessimistic about everything.What a lesson to be learned here.To look behind is OK as long as it is only a glance, but the future is uncrowded with the luggage of the past unless I choose to bring it with me.It is a glorious feeling to know that my future need not be influenced by my negative history.
If life is a race, then I want run it without the heavy burden of yesterday.To do that, however, I must be willing to let go of those things in the past which might make me proud, giving me a false sense of spirituality and maturity.Today is a new beginning and the finish line is ahead of me.As I lunge for my goal, my desire should be to allow this moment to stand on its own.Because I acted in a mature fashion yesterday doesn't guarantee I will do the same today unless I continue to exercise and train... i.e., pray and seek the face of God in every situation.Relying upon yesterday's results, whether victories or defeats, will hinder the race I am running now.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, as I stretch for the finish line of today's contest, I ask you to help me stay focused on the moment.Remind me again that my failure of yesterday does not mean I will fail today.And, show me how to keep my eyes on You, not on my good deeds of days past.