This man must be older than dirt, I grumbled to myself as my mother introduced me to my new music teacher, Mr. Grady. I was twelve years old and was sporting a bit of an adolescent attitude. My first fifteen minutes of introduction time consisted of listening to him describe in great detail his triple-bypass heart surgery and all the other physical ailments which vexed his body. He informed me that his ticker could go at any moment. This was an unnerving concept for me as a young girl, and I prayed the final tick would not occur during my lesson time. He presented his life with optimism rivaling Winnie the Poohs friend Eeyore.
Mr. Grady was convinced he had one foot in the grave. He lived in a body that seemed to imprison the vibrant desires of his heart to live life as fully as he once had lived. At twelve years old, I too had been living with one foot in the grave. I had been an unhappy teenager who was braced for another divorce to occur for my mother. The vibrant desires of my heart had started to wane and had likewise become imprisoned in my unhappy home environment.
Mr. Grady had a resurgence of purpose and joy as he gave me lessons and I had a resurgence of purpose and joy as I was challenged to learn to play several instruments over the years. When my mother could not afford lessons, he provided them free of charge for many years. Preparation for talent competitions became the new positive focus for Mr. Grady and me. He found his life could still make a difference in someone else through the gift of music, and I found my life could encompass dreams beyond my home. We brought a new sense of life to each other as our friendship grew throughout the years.
Twenty years later, Mr. Gradys health declined. I found myself at his hospital bed looking at a small frail man whose body seemed much too small for his large heart of love. He had given so much to me. He had given me the gift of music and spoke into my life to encourage me to reach for my potential. Through the many competitions, I found courage that I never knew I had within me to successfully face challenges. It was this same courage that helped me face the challenge of having a critical conversation with Mr. Grady. I had to talk to him about Christ.
He was a good man, but he never expressed having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I could not imagine letting him pass without sharing Jesus with him. At this point in my life I was not in pastoral ministry and had not led an adult to Christ. Nevertheless, I was compelled to share the gospel with him. Mr. Grady was not wearing his hearing aids, so it was rather awkward and humorous having his hospital roommate stare at me, as I yelled the gospel message for Mr. Grady to hear. To the glory of God, that night he prayed to receive the gift of salvation. He gave me the gift of music and I gave him the gift of the gospel message; and Jesus gave him the gift of eternal life! Transforming Hearts Transforming Lives!
Dear Jesus, please help us to be faithful to freely give what we have been given. We are here to be used by you to transform hearts and lives through the love of Jesus Christ. May we be faithful to generously love others through sharing what we have been given so that your name is glorified.
–Rev. Judy Weeks, Pastor, Northside Church of God, Jacksonville, Florida