Two weeks ago, I heard that one of our members, the young lady that stepped in to lead the Music Ministry at our church, had suffered a stroke. She is in her early forties. She is energetic on the organ, and her teenage accompanies her on the drums.
We believed that she would be out of church for a few weeks, needing rehabilitation to renew her strength on her left side. This meant someone else musical in the church stepping up to play the piano or organ. But, last Sunday, right in the middle of our Black History Month program, she came in, leaning on a friend and a son, walking with a cane!
I was stunned, as she went to the organ and started trying to play, holding herself up as best she could. But our pastor told her that while we appreciated her commitment to the church, he wanted her to just sit in the congregation. He scolded her for disobeying doctor’s orders and coming to church two days after being discharged from the hospital.
But, it was her response that touched my heart. She said that playing the music and being with her church members were the sources of her healing and strength. She had orchestrated the amazing program of poetry readings, songs, and a mime ministry that inspired me and reminded me that our God can speak to our hearts in my ways.
Her quest was to be there for the people she had invited who did not know anyone else at the church. Her faithfulness to the calling that she felt on her life was something to see. She was back on the organ today, looking a lot stronger but still having some obstacles to overcome. Staying away was not optional for her, and I believe that she was meant to be there today.
As I taught Sunday School this morning, I lamented the absence of a period for testimonies, a constant part of church services when I was a little girl. I never said anything to our pastor about the lesson, and so I was taken aback when he deviated from the order of service and asked if anyone wanted to testify to God’s goodness in their lives.
The young organist spoke up, and she said that people have told her that she should not come to church in her state. But, she said, that she should have died from her stroke, as her blood pressure was in the fatal range when she arrived at the hospital. She was so thankful to still be alive, believing that God was with her.
She said, “If I die doing what God has called me to do, then just slide me over to the side, and keep on praising God. I will have given up this earthly body, and will be putting on my heavenly body.” I know that some people will think that is a little extreme, but I see it as a portrait of faithfulness to one’s calling.
Her young son last week was overcome at what had happened to his mother, and the fear that she almost died and he would have lost her overwhelmed him. But this week as the two of them played the music, he smiled and was joyful. I really believe that part of her determination to come has to do with putting her son’s mind at rest, while answering her call.
Whether I believe that she should rest and take time for healing, and not stress over whether the music gets played, I also know that when we participate in the activities that bring us joy, healing begins. I also think that not being there at church would be more detrimental, causing her to worry about the rest of us. I know that her faithfulness influenced my decision to attend today.
I have been battling a strange sickness for over a month. I have appointments with three different kinds of doctors trying to determine what is happening. I have had a cough for nearly a month, headaches, and just feeling weak. When I woke this morning, I thought that I might stay home and let Douglas teach my Sunday School class.
Then, I remembered seeing that young woman determined to come to church, and I knew that I was not nearly as sick, so I got my behind up and went and honored my duties. I was so glad that I did. I ended up leading a congregational song, something I never do because I generally can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but my spirit soared as the congregation song a uplifting song. I left church feeling that all will be well and that healing will come, all because of the wonderful and powerful portrait of faithfulness that a determined young woman demonstrated for us all.