Shortly after Edmund’s death, June Michealsen, came to Papua New Guinea as our ladies retreat speaker. She told about attending a concert at the Arlington Theater where the conductor did not appear. After a long silence, the orchestra began to play without a conductor. He had died that week. “The audience gasped,” June told us. “We always came to concerts expecting music. We hadn’t planned on death,” she said.
I thought to myself, “That’s exactly how it feels. We’re all here–the four children and I, but where’s the conductor? Where’s our director, our decision maker?” We expected to celebrate the completion of the Nabak New Testament soon. We hadn’t planned on death. And my next thought was, “The conductor’s place is empty. His voice is silent. The music must be over. There won’t be any music from THIS orchestra again.”
Then the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of an incident that happened on May 5, 1989 exactly five years previous to Edmund’s funeral. The students at Ukarumpa High School, where my children attended, put on the drama “Fiddler on the Roof.” My oldest daughter, Dietlinde, played the part of the fiddler. After the superb performance we hurried to congratulate her. Another co-worker, Elaine, came up at the same time and said, “Why, Dietlinde, it’s amazing. I’ve known you all your life but I never knew you played the violin.”
Dietlinde, with a twinkle in her eye, pulled the violin out from behind her back and said, “Yes, it IS amazing considering the fact that this bow has no strings on it.” Elaine chuckled when she realized she’d been tricked.
Then Dietlinde said something I’ll never forget, “This is just a prop closet violin. The real musician is over there,” and she pointed to Bud Larsen in the orchestra.
In rehearsal time Dietlinde had spent hours copying Bud, the violinist. She watched the strokes of his bow and movements of his fingers. By opening night she looked like a violinist. Even her head tilted at just the right angle. But no matter how perfect her style, Dietlinde was not a violinist.
I needed the reminder that the music doesn’t come from me at all. Our Father is the Master musician, the great conductor, the music maker. I am only a prop closet violin. What God did for me, my family and among the Nabak people is all because of His grace. I am only a minor player. And what He does now and continues to do as the translation committee works on the Nabak Old Testament, the Nabak hymnbook and literacy projects is still His outrageous grace.
I have learned that giving God’s Word to a people group is something worth dying for. It is something worth living for. And I have learned that He did not fail me. And dear reader, I can say with full confidence that He won’t fail you either. Because of His outrageous grace there CAN be music again.Lord, may music and love flow out from our lives.
Equip us, by the presence of your Holy Spirit, for a powerful performance.