“Where’s my piano?” I had just realized it no longer sat in the back room at Papa’s office.
“It’s gone.” Mama’s voice sounded strained.
My throat tightened, and tears blurred my vision. Gone? I struggled to comprehend. “Where?”
“Did they give us what we paid for it?”
“That’s good.” I turned to hide my tears and force a smile as Papa came into the room.
My battle with keeping music in it’s proper place in my life has been waged for many years. I love music, especially piano. I always enjoyed practicing – it was not uncommon for me to practice six hours a day without even realizing how much time had slipped passed since I’d first sat down and touched the keys. The only time practicing was ever a struggle was when I knew God was asking me to surrender different parts of my musical dreams for something better – and He did ask me, over and over again, especially as I approached the end of my high school years and entered the college years.
Then, during my nine months of recovery time in 2012 and 2013, I wrestled with God over my piano. But my beautiful Shimmel grand piano wasn’t just a dream – it was reality, a part of who I am. The battle in my heart raged for weeks as I memorized James 5 and God asked me if I really wanted to live what I claimed. Surrendering my plans for my college education was relatively easy in comparison. Giving Him my car was even easier. But my piano…
Finally I reached a decision. Tearfully I told Mama about my struggle, and that I was willing to sell my piano if God asked me to, but deep inside I didn’t really believe it would actually go. And I didn’t believe my parents would actually try. I returned to the mission field comforted.
Since my move to the jungle, during my personal study time and in conversations with my fellow missionaries, God has almost continually been laying before us the theme of self-sacrifice and fellowship with Him in suffering. “Selfishness, the sin of the world, has become the prevailing sin of the church. In sacrificing Himself for the good of men, Christ strikes at the root of all selfishness. He withheld nothing, not even His own honor and heavenly glory. He expects corresponding self-denial and sacrifice on the part of those whom He came to bless and save.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 204.2.
Out in the jungle, God brought my piano to mind again. Was I truly willing to surrender all to Him? I tried to push the thoughts aside. I tried to justify keeping it. We got it on sale – we could never have afforded it if it wasn’t for the multiple sales we just happened to walk in on. We most definitely didn’t pay what it is worth. I have never played another piano I loved so much – the touch, the mellow richness of tone, the clear treble, and the powerful bass. Oh, my piano…thinking about giving it up was like thinking about choosing never to see my best friend again, even though we could if we wanted to.
The struggle was fierce…until one day God showed me a picture in my mind. I saw my piano. Standing beside it, I saw people – some I recognized as my own students, and others I didn’t know. It seemed as if God were saying, “You choose. Will you tie up all that money in your piano that will someday burn while these precious souls pass into eternity, forever lost? How far could that money go in giving them an opportunity for eternal life? Some of them would choose Me if you gave them the chance. What will you do?”
At that moment, I knew what I would do. The decision wasn’t any easier, nor did I feel any better about it, but I knew it was right. I would go home, enjoy playing Shimmel one more time, and then tell my parents to do what they could to sell my beautiful piano.
I went home, and we were very busy. Finally, about a week before my return to Thailand, we went to the office to pick up some books from one of the storage rooms. It was then that I realized my piano wasn’t there. That’s when I asked the question that opened this blog post. Shortly after my previous return to the mission field, Mama told Papa about my decision to be willing to sell the piano. He called one of the piano companies in Portland, and they readily agreed to buy it from us. They came and took it before I even moved from Cambodia to the jungle, but Mama couldn’t bring herself to tell me. I cried when I realized I would never get to play it again, but maybe God knew my courage would fail if I did. Even now I am struggling to focus on what I’m writing.* And yet being a partaker with Christ in His sufferings means that one day I will also be a partaker in His eternal joy of seeing other precious ones rescued from this kingdom of darkness, greed, selfishness, sin, and death. It will be worth it.
“The members of the church should individually hold themselves and all their possessions upon the altar of God. Now, as never before, the Savior’s admonition is applicable: ‘Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ Those who are fastening their means in large houses, in lands, in worldly enterprises, are saying by their actions: ‘God cannot have it; I want it for myself.’ They have bound up their one talent in a napkin and hid it in the earth. There is cause for such to be alarmed. Brethren, God has not entrusted means to you to lie idle nor to be covetously retained or hid away, but to be used to advance His cause, to save the souls of the perishing. It is not the time now to bind up the Lord’s money in your expensive buildings and your large enterprises, while His cause is crippled and left to beg its way, the treasury half-supplied. The Lord is not in this way of working. Remember, the day is fast approaching when it will be said: ‘Give an account of thy stewardship.’ Can you not discern the signs of the times? Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 465.1
*I wrote this the day after I realized my piano was gone forever.