The familiar ding of my cell phone alerted me to the arrival of my friend’s text at 10:30 on a glorious, picturesque morning in beautiful Harleem (the Netherlands, not New York). The text, typed and dispatched at 3:30 AM from its author’s time zone, sent me looking for a tranquil spot to process her words, words that represented two years of listening and waiting on the Lord…an uneasy waiting. I needed a safe harbor from the storm threatening to engulf heart. To my relief, just ahead, stood one of those awe-some European cathedrals. Yes, as I noted in an earlier blog, many might gaze upon these buildings for their historic, aesthetic, and architectural value, but for me, these cathedrals are still sacred spaces.
I made my away across the town square, into the small shop that stood between me and St. Bavo Cathedral entry, paid my 2.50 Euros, and then weaved my way through the corridor toward the entrance of the dimly lit cathedral. Before I entered the cathedral’s interior, I became aware of a sound, a solitary note being emitted from an organ.
Stepping across the threshold, I closed my eyes, and drew a deep breath, letting the peace and quiet of the sanctuary infiltrate my lungs as if its peace could quiet my heart. Ahhh the peace and quiet of a sanctuary…quiet expect for that one note being held and held and held on the organ. Where was that sound, that one note, coming from? I easily spotted the organ’s pipes – reaching toward the ceiling, standing like proud soldiers in the immaculate space. But where was the organ, the origination of that annoying one note, and its organist with his paralytic finger? Honestly, that one note was getting on my nerves. Didn’t the organist know, I needed the quiet? But the one note persisted. I tried to tune it out as I made my way through the cathedral.
Then, it happened. The one note changed! GLORY! (I think I heard one of the intricately carved angels whisper to another THANKS BE TO GOD!) But, in my opinion, that next one note overstayed its welcome, too, before another singular note took its place. This pattern continued throughout my self-guided tour. For goodness sakes! If the organ had to be played, why couldn’t it have been a soft soothing hymn? Horatio Spafford’s It Is Well with My Soul would have been a comforting and fitting choice.
As I made my way toward the exit, I complained to God, “I WANT THE NOTE TO CHANGE! I DON’T LIKE THAT NOTE!” In that moment, I realized that the nagging audible one note had become a symbol of the situation about which my friend had texted. I did not like this one note of life that was being played. With that revelation, God’s word came gently, but firmly, to my heart: “Monica, you don’t get to decide what note is played, when it is played, and for how long it plays. You cannot see the “bigger picture”…you don’t see the written score in its entirety, the masterpiece being played out.”
I never saw the organ or its player. But who am I to demand a note change or complain about the number of measures for which a note is held, anyway? The notes of life – yours, mine, individually, corporately – are part of a masterpiece written by a composure who is, at the very core of His being, brilliant and good and loving. Thus, we can rest assured that whatever note plays, it is an intricate and deliberate part of a grand and brilliant score.
Do you know what else I realized? When I entered St. Bavo Cathedral the organ was already playing. It continued to play throughout my visit, and as I exited...the organist working his way through the masterpiece atop his music stand. In the same way, while we can be certain that God’s masterpiece moves toward its magnificent finale, we enter life’s stage with the musical score already in process, and when our exit comes, the Organist will still be moving His masterpiece toward its end. So, whatever my note, even if it be one note…LET IT PLAY its intricate and deliberate part of a grand and brilliant score!