I was only thirteen when I walked into the ballroom and stared at the breathtaking sight. Giant columns dotted the room and held the massive ceiling in place. Beautifully decorated tables filled the room. I'd never seen even one table decorated with flowers and candles; this room had to have 100 or more. Ladies were all dressed up; there were over 600 people there. I almost turned around and ran. I was scared to death.
I had no idea when my 4-H leader asked me to sing a song for her ladies club that her club had so many women. I suddenly realized why she'd worked for weeks getting me ready, teaching me how to hold notes and sing with more volume as she played the piano in her living room. Until I walked into that ballroom, I'd felt pretty confident. I literally wanted to cry. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Mrs. Keys hoped I would get a scholarship by singing in front of ladies in her lodge. I didn't. I was disappointed that she was disappointed. However, there is an up side to this; I never forgot the song:
"I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses...".
I suppose the most wonderful part of learning a song, and failing to please my 4-H leader, is the difference it made in my life 38 years later. In our last pastorate, a dear elderly lady, Mrs. P, was devastated when her husband suddenly died of a massive stroke. Our music director usually arranged to sing for the funerals, but when we went by to see the widow, she tearfully asked if I would sing a song. I immediately said "yes", even though I had never sang a solo at a funeral. I asked if she had a particular song she wanted me to sing, and she said she'd leave that up to me; she was so grief-stricken she couldn't think.
As a minister's wife I've sang "In The Garden" many times in church. But I've never sang it solo; I'm usually in a choir or a congregation. On the day of the funeral, I could barely breathe as I began singing. Mrs. P sat right in front of me and looked into my face through tears of sorrow. I wanted to break down crying--just like many years before. Instead of crying with her, the Lord pressed upon me to smile as I sang. Her face slowly filled with a peace that I can only describe as passing all understanding. Her tears stopped falling down her cheeks. Pure contentment radiated from her eyes. I wanted to stop singing and go hug her, but managed to finish without dissolving into an emotional puddle.
Days after the funeral, my husband and I went to visit her and she took my hands in hers, and kept telling me how wonderful my song was and how much she appreciated it. Then she asked me how I knew it was her husband's favorite song. I didn't know. But God did. Amazing how God works, isn't it? I can't begin to count how many times I've sung that song through the years, but I can count the one time it felt like I was truly in the garden with my Savior. selahV