The following article, which I wrote, appeared in the February 2014 Newsletter of the Utah Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Almost two years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to play for BYU Women's Conference. I was ecstatic as I prepared. Ideas flowed, and I ended up incorporating an assortment of creative techniques into the hymns. After many organ commitments in the ten days leading up to the conference, which included an unexpected family funeral, I was overwhelmed and felt the pressure of the world on my shoulders. During my practice the night before I was to play, things completely fell apart and I had to accept the fact that due to my exhaustion, my practicing was now complete, for better or worse.
The next morning, while sitting with friends during the opening session of the second day of Women's Conference, I felt so nervous and began to second-guess myself; none of the other organists had utilized creative hymn techniques, was I looking beyond the mark? As they announced the closing session, my friend turned to me and said, “Just think: You get to play for an apostle of the Lord. An apostle will sing to your music!” Her statement opened my eyes and allowed me to see things a little differently, yet I still felt inadequate. I still questioned my choices—did I really want to solo out the alto on that chorus? Did I want to add the end of phrase elaborations on that verse? I didn't know how to let go of my stresses and let the Lord in.
In the minutes before the closing session, I again pondered on what my friend had pointed out, and my purpose was finally made known to me. I realized I was there to help bring the Spirit to the meeting and prepare those in attendance to hear the message of an Apostle of the Lord. This purpose was not only my privilege, but my great responsibility. I had been led to choose that session; to incorporate techniques that would paint the hymn text and unlock the power of these hymns. When I considered simplifying the accompaniment by not playing my additional material, I had the distinct impression that I was to play as I had prepared. I knew that God was in control, and that I was just a part of His plan. As long as I remained humble, things would go as they should.
Mordecai's statement to Esther played through my head, “And who knoweth whether thou art come...for such a time as this.” The weight of the world left me, and the peace of God replaced it.
While my playing was not flawless, it was powerful, and I received confirmation that it was an acceptable offering. I was where I needed to be, I had listened to the Spirit and accomplished God's purposes. He chose me for “such a time as this,” just as He has chosen each of us in our own sphere.
Every single time we play we are in a position to lift a burden, heal a broken spirit, comfort the weary, and bring joy and rejoicing to a happy heart! “Who knoweth whether thou art come...for such a time as this” in the lives of those who hear you play? We may never know the impact of our preparation, but we should never doubt our important role in the lives of others.