My Fellowship With Job
Before anybody misunderstands the purpose of this testimony: I was never afflicted in any way in the manner of Job – the biggest item that Job and I have in common is the theme verse.
When the Parkinsons chapter of my life opened, Job 19:26 immediately blanketed my meditations. Grossly paraphrased, it says: Worms, Do your worst! Mutilate this mortal body in any manner you desire! I have a promise handed down by my eternal Creator that guarantees that I will one day meet God – in my flesh.
It’s hard to explain, but I had no phase of denial, no phase of anger, and no phase of depression. With no phase of denial, I was cheated of the catharsis that comes with the phase of acceptance. This was simply the next chapter in my life. It all made sense. I went into the doctor’s office healthy, she twisted my elbow and suggested I see a neurologist. My reply was, “I think you’re right.”
I was 45 at the time. My dreams of being a world series shortstop had already been crushed beyond hope. I had acted well during the days of my youthful energy, and had already graduated into being more valuable for my advice and experience than for what I could actually accomplish physically. And about a decade earlier, I had already abandoned the high physical stress of a job, and had moved all my career operations back to my house. It would be another eight years before any of my clients even had to know. In short, if this was indeed the next chapter, I was ready.
I had made a statement before a group of friends that I had not really had to give up anything important. Driving seemed to be the biggest forfeiture, and there are several ways to get around. But my love for music had slipped my mind. I actually have a broader music background than most people today know me for. I was raised playing several musical instruments, and even paid for my college with a scholarship to play the clarinet. I spent ten years as part of an orchestra in a Living Christmas Tree, and also as part of their Easter program.
About 6 or 7 years prior, I played the piano for the next-to-final time. I was playing the high-energy praise song to God: O Glorious Love. Tim Kauffman – who went on to become a song evangelist – introduced me to the song. At the risk of getting a little mundane, my favorite part of the song lasts for but a moment. The lyrics read “My song shall silence never.” For just a single beat before that line, the singer rests, and the piano player gets a one-note spotlight. The piano is situated such that the player’s left hand can go into full extension, and he can blast a basso chord for all that his forearm is worth. And if the foundation of the house shakes a bit – so much the better. It’s hard to explain the sensation, but it is a powerful moment.
And I botched it.
I missed. For all the swing was worth, it wouldn’t even have been all that powerful if I had nailed it. The swing in my arm just wasn’t there. And the worst part was that I saw it coming. The notes were all there, but I could feel myself losing control of the song even from the more Dolce (lit. ”sweet”) – easier to play, opening. I finished the song out of pure stubbornness. But that swing and a miss posed a startling defeat – the most crushing that I can remember.
Out of pure stubbornness, I finished. But mere nano-seconds after the last note, I was off the bench, and had escaped to my office. I’m told I scared Leslie, my youngest daughter. Of course that was not my intent. But letting everyone watch me experience such a low moment was not my intent either. It was over. And don’t think the irony of ending my music career to the lyric of “my song shall silence never” has escaped my attention.
I did play publically one final time. It was part of a piano lesson concert in a duet with Leslie. And I immediately chose that moment to retire forever. May indeed my song never silence! My song may never again be expressed in terms of 88 piano keys. And I’ll probably never get to play the piccolo obbligato in The Stars and Stripes Forever. But if God is able to get a worm-eaten body and declare “Yet in my flesh shall I see God,” then my inability to hit piano keys cleanly is no reason to renege on shouting “My song shall silence never.”