I sprinted behind my son, attempting to wrap his dripping hair in a towel. Wrestling him out of the bath had worn me out. Wrestling him into pajamas was even more difficult. Now he had broken free and was running down the hall. He squealed in delight as I huffed, “Boy, when I get a hold of you…”
We rounded the corner and I stopped short, blinking in surprise.
My husband stood in the living room, a big grin on his face. His hands gripped a beautiful violin and bow. The irritation with my wayward son melted away.
My breath caught as I walked in slow steps towards him, an amazed smile tugging my lips. “I don’t understand.”
“Happy Anniversary, honey.”
I studied the way the instrument caught glimmers of light. I ran my fingers across the gleaming wood.
“I’ve always wanted to learn to play one. Ever since I was little.”
My husband beamed as he laid it in my hands, much like transferring a fragile newborn. “I know. I remembered. And with our nineteenth anniversary next week, what better time to finally give you one?” He studied me, trying to gauge my reaction. “Do you like it?
I couldn’t speak for a moment. Words choked in my throat. It was more than his thoughtfulness. I stood on my tiptoes and gave him a kiss, a huge smile wobbling through my tears. “Yes! Oh, yes!” He gave me far more than he knew.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a disorder that keeps the stomach from pumping. It’s a vagus nerve problem which involves pain, nausea, esophagus spasms, reflux and a host of other issues. This nerve dysfunction has now progressed into my larynx. It causes painful spasms in my vocal chords, much like a back spasm. Gastroparesis is a progressive disease. Unless God intervenes, it will get worse. In short, I am losing my ability to sing.
This might not be a big deal to some. For me, it’s been a hard blow. I mean, I wasn’t just a sing-in-the shower kind of girl. I was signed with a Christian record label. Ten years ago, I thought God had made it clear He wanted me to use my voice to help others find freedom in Him. With the medical diagnosis and the loss of my voice, I was confused. The God-ordained plans that seemed so certain suddenly shifted and I was reminded of this important truth . . . the more you build your identity on something other than Christ, the greater the pain when that identity crumbles.
It’s been a time of grieving, yet it’s also been sweet to sit at His feet as He has tenderly prepared my heart . . . teaching me, loving me, guiding me onto a new path, a new adventure.
On the days when the grief felt like shards of glass embedded deep into my heart, God impressed this beautiful passage from His Word into my Spirit:
“I will compensate you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust—
My great army which I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
And praise the name of the Lord your God
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.” Joel 2:25,26 AMP
When I’m tempted to mourn over the ‘should be’ or ‘could have beens’, I take a deep breath and whisper, “He will restore what the locusts have eaten.”
God has show me a great creative beauty in writing. He has allowed me to sign with the remarkably talented literary agent Janet Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency. I’m currently working on my twelfth fiction story and my third nonfiction work, as well as numerous blog posts and magazine articles. And as I’ve studied the craft of writing, I’ve learned something quite interesting. Do you know what professionals call an author’s unique way of writing? Their “voice”.
I love to express my thoughts through words. Thankfully, speaking is far less taxing on my voice than singing, so my speaking calendar is quite full. And now I’ve been given a beautiful violin. Do you know why I teared up so quickly when my husband presented me with my exquisite gift? I knew something he didn’t know. Do you know which musical instrument most resembles the tonal quality of the human voice? The violin.
He will restore what the locusts have eaten . . .
Sometimes we cling with white knuckles to our own plans so tightly, we fail to realize God is trying to give us something far better. But in order to receive it, we must relinquish our hold on the old before we can receive the new.
I don’t want to settle for good and miss out on God’s best. Through this whole process, God has taught me an amazing truth. Sometimes, to give you a voice, God must first break your instrument.
God may heal my singing voice. He may not. Either way, I’m content. I’m happy. God never takes away without giving something better in return. I have a voice, and I’ll use it for Him as long as He gives me breath.
Because you can have a voice and still not have a voice.
Tara Johnson is an author, speaker and passionate lover of stories. She loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share how God led her into freedom after spending years living shackled as a people-pleasing preacher’s kid.
Tara has written articles for Plain Truth magazine and has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio and Enduring Word radio. Tara is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband Todd live in Arkansas and the Lord has blessed them with five children: Bethany, Callie, Nate, as well as Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane who are with Jesus.
More about Walk it Out
What Happens When We Read God’s Word and Actually Do What it Says?
Bestselling Author Tricia Goyer demonstrates the powerful work God accomplishes if we are willing to step out in obedience to Biblical commands and His quiet urgings, no matter our fears or feelings of inadequacy.
Walk It Out illustrates the real-life results of listening to the Scriptural mandates such as care for the orphan, serve the poor, go into the world to spread the gospel, and love others of all races. The author’s journey, from accepting Christ’s forgiveness and telling her story of redemption to answering the call to adopt seven children when she least expected, is filled with the exhilarating, radical, unexpected life that we experience when we walk into God’s plans for us.
“I neither planned or expected any of this—from the ten kids to the stamped-up passport. I didn’t accomplish these things by making a list and checking it off. They happened as I took steps of faith to follow God’s directives.” ~Tricia Goyer