(photo credit: goinswriter.com)
“My dad has a song and a story for everything.” For years, this has been favorite son’s assessment of my approach to life. I probably got it from my dad, who got it from his. I can’t wait for the day that one of my grandchildren says something similar about my son, an actor who not only tells the stories but dramatizes them in grand and entertaining fashion.
I have to admit that, for me, life really is a series of stories. Perhaps “series” is not the right word, because that implies sequence. Maybe life is a “tapestry” of stories, with threads of one story interwoven with others.
This morning I read Psalm 90:1-2: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Thirty years ago, I performed my Senior Voice Recital at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M) to complete my Bachelor of Music Education degree. The final song on my recital program was called “The Prophet’s Prayer”, an aria from the opera “Samuel”, written by my voice professor, Royal Brantley. Mr. B was more than a professor; he was a mentor and father figure. For 4 years, I spent at least an hour a week with him, one on one in his studio. Besides singing, we talked about life and spiritual things. He told me early on that he was Methodist by heritage and Presbyterian by association. He also told me that his family had a long running aversion to Baptists. We laughed about that a lot.
(Royal L. Brantley, photo credit: wtamu.edu)
When Mr. B introduced this aria to me as a possibility for my recital, he told me about his fascination with the biblical character Samuel, whom he described as a circuit-riding preacher. When he wrote his opera, he had Samuel singing Psalm 90. Psalm 90 is likely the earliest of all the psalms recorded in the Bible. It was written by Moses at least 300 years earlier and likely would have been well-known by Samuel.
Through those many hours and in the years following, I came to a conclusion about Mr. B. A world-class baritone, he turned down many opportunities for advancement of his career, choosing to spend almost 40 years at a small university in the Texas panhandle, investing his life teaching young adults. When I preached the message at his funeral service (at his request), I noted that he was, in many ways, a Samuel who spent his life anointing generations of Davids to fulfill their calling. (1 Samuel 16).
Who’s your Samuel--I mean the person(s) who helped set you on the course to fulfill your calling? Who’s your David—the person into whose life you are investing? Our lives matter so much to God that He is constantly weaving us through the tapestry of His story.
And that reminds me of another story …
Leave a comment below and tell me about your Samuel. I'd love to hear your story.