It is with much anticipation that I began my first spring tour with the Bryan College Chorale and Chamber Singers last Friday. During Spring Break of 2014, I had spent the entire break, watching and keeping track of the choir’s spring tour via social media, and desperately wishing I could be there with them. Not only were all of my friends (with a couple exceptions) sitting on that tour bus having fun together without me, but they were having the opportunity to sing God’s praises all over the states they were touring through. It was on that break that I decided that, whatever it took, I was going to be in Spring Chorale the next time they went on tour.
Now, just a year later, I sit on the tour bus with 39 of my best friends in the world, en route to our next concert. I’m so thankful to the Lord for allowing me to be here this time, and I’m thankful to the chorale for accepting me as one of their own, almost as if I had always been one of them. But with all of the fun that I've had so far, I never expected to get the flu on day two of tour. Nor did I expect that over the course of the next week, so would nearly every other person on the bus.
They tell me this is a unique tour with the number of complications that we've had so far. We have yet to have a single concert with every single member of the chorale onstage. Even many of the people onstage, have had to mouth the words because they either can’t hit the notes, or will break into a coughing fit if they try. Between the sickness and intense performance schedule (yesterday we had three concerts in a single day), there isn't much of a chance for voices to recover before they are needed again. In between each song , we all use the audience’s applause to mask our cacophony of coughing and sniffles.
So far, the tour that I've described to you doesn't sound like much fun, I’m sure, but last night, as our coughing faded into “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”, a song the chorale has concluded every concert with for 29 years, our exhausted voices joined together in sweet harmony, uplifting the one we came to praise. As has been typical for the past 29 years when this song is sung, tears began to flow, both among audience and chorale members. It was then, standing among my friends with bodies pushed to their limit, and breaking, that I realized that we were broken vessels; busted instruments with strings missing that alone could never hope to play beautiful music, but together, beautiful harmonies danced off our lips.
As I mulled over this thought in my mind, I began to think of Moses who was chosen by God to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelite slaves in Egypt. In Exodus 4:10-12, Moses tells the Lord, “‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since you have spoken to Your servant. But I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.’ The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who made the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you must say” (MEV). Despite Moses’ lack of eloquence, the Lord promised him that He would give him the words he would need for the job.
As I sang onstage last night, I remembered these words, and was amazed at the way that God allowed our broken voices to be pleasing to the ears of our audience. To listen to us sing that song, there was very little indication that we were all vocally exhausted and sick.
With just one concerts left, my ears are still filled with occasional choruses of coughing throughout the bus. I doubt that we will have a concert where everyone sings, nor do I think there will be a concert where those of us who do sing, are able to do so without coughing. The odds may not be in our favor, but I’m not worried because “Who has made man’s mouth? ...Have not I, the Lord?” Throughout all of time, God has chosen to use broken vessels so that his glory might be evident. In Him, the broken may be made whole. In the same way, as we sing this last concert, my prayer is that we would be God’s instruments, broken from our sheer amount of use, playing God’s symphony of symphonies.