I direct a handbell choir, which is a true calling and blessing in my life. Last night, we played a concert for patients at a local rehabilitation facility. We are enjoying the opportunity to play "on the road" because it puts us in contact with people we don't know and gives us the opportunity to minister to them through our music. We like to close our concerts by giving the audience the chance to ring the handchimes. We have special "music" that we have them play by color; the words of a song are highlighted with green for ring (go) and red to damp (stop) the chime. What we didn't expect last night was that we would encounter an unusual number of "coincidences."
One of the ringers said that she played with a patient who had lived in Hanover, Germany. "My son is doing a report right now on Hanover, Germany," she said. "Is that weird? I'm thinking about sending him over here to talk with her."
Another ringer shared an enormously joy-filled smile. "I just played with a blind woman!" she said. Truly, she had been holding the patient's hand with the chime in it throughout the song. What were we playing? Amazing Grace. "I once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind but now I see." I had never thought about what would happen if a blind person received color-coded music. But, it wasn't about the music now, was it? And that patient had an equally enormous joy-filled smile on her face.
Then, as we were packing up to leave, a gentleman in a wheelchair rolled up behind me. He asked if we knew Poughkeepsie. Well, you don't hear the town mentioned in central Virginia regularly, but, having gone to school in upstate New York, I knew the town. Then, it dawned on me that I had just seen the word Poughkeepsie. It was on the last piece of music we had played. The piece had been arranged and dedicated to a bell choir in Poughkeepsie. I shared this information with the gentleman.
"My daughter plays with them," he said, as I showed him the name of the choir on the music. The Tower RIngers is one of the "star" performing choirs from that area of the country, and the gentleman said that he had accompanied his daughter on a number of those performances and that she really loved being a part of the group. He was quite familiar with the music!
As I reflect back on last night--thinking about how we all just looked at each other in wonder, sharing these stories--it also came to mind today that, sometimes, the coincidences are not as "happy." One of our ringers had missed the last two practices due to family obligations. She called just before our performance to say that she wouldn't be able to play, as her brother-in-law was in very serious condition at a hospital and that she was told by doctors that he might not make it through the night.*
The two weeks of her absence provided the opportunity for other ringers to learn and play her part. Who knew that they would have to do so in a performance situation?
"O Lord, You are my God;
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
For You have worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness."
One of our pastors at church has adopted a new blessing to use at the close of services. It begins, "You go nowhere by accident...." His Word confirms over and over that He IS in control of EVERYTHING, and that He would reveal His plans to us in the form of such "remarkable events" shows just how wonder-full He really is.
*Continued prayers for this man as he did survive the night and a transfer to a more fully equipped medical center, for peace and comfort, and for God's perfect faithfulness in provision.