Sunday, November 20, 2011

Love Before It Is Too Late!

"30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31, NKJV).

 Robby's Night

At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from DeMoines, Iowa.

I've always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons-something I've done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I've never had the pleasure of having a prodigy though I have taught some talented students.

However I've also had my share of what I call "musically challenged" pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I refer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother's dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student.

Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn. Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he'd always say, "My mom's going to hear me play some day." But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in. Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons.

I thought about calling him but assumed, because of his lack of ability,that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching! Several weeks later I mailed to the student's homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mom had been sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still practicing.

"Miss Hondorf... I've just got to play!" he insisted. I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be all right. The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my "curtain closer."

Well the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he'run an egg-beater through it. "Why didn't he dress up like the other students?" I thought. "Why didn't his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?" Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart's Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories.

He went from pianissimo to fortissimo... from allegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by people his age. After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause.

Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. "I've never heard you play like that Robby! How'd you do it?" Through the microphone Robby explained: "Well Miss Hondorf... remember I told you my mom was sick? Well actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well.... she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special."

There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil. No, I've never had a prodigy but that night I became a prodigy... of Robby's.

He was the teacher and I was the pupil. For it was he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance on someone and you don't know why.

This is especially meaningful to me since after serving in Desert Storm Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995, where he was reportedly.... playing the piano.

What can we learn from this real life story? Never underestimate the talent of anyone based on your standard. You may never know who they are until you are in their boot. See as God sees you perfectly through Jesus Christ and hopes for the best out of you even when He knows already that you don't measure up and are full of weaknesses. We may never learn to love someone until we really love them in their weaknesses. See each person as God's child and not as a someone based on what talent they have or display.

Each person we meet in our life are some one whom God has appointed to us to minister the love of God as God's children. We may never be able to empathise with people until we learn to love people by receiving the unconditional love of God through the Holy Spirit of God. The person whom we meet today by God's appointment may not be there tomorrow if we miss to show God's love to them today. Oppurtunities we miss today may be the biggest orchestration of God to dispense the work of God to deposit our treasure in heaven, if we do not realise it now we may miss it for eternity ahead. Why not you make a choice today to love all the people whom we meet today, whether they are good or bad who cares. May we learn to love like our God unconditionally!

Say it out loud,

"I am my neighbor's Bible
He reads me when we meet....
He may not even know my name,
Yet he's reading me when we greet.

Lord help me receive your love,
Unconditional and pure in motive.
To give out love when I feel otherwise,
Thus be a true child of my Heavenly Father.
To see people not as I see them on the outside,
But as you see them in their state of need and compassion.
May I not rob the robbie's of their love that you have for them,
To show the face of My Heavenly Father through me so that they will come to know that you love them truly!

In JESUS name AMEN!"


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