Words of Encouragement

Archive for September, 2014

ALL BECAUSE OF GOD’S AMAZING GRACE

Cyndi den Otter

The idea was hatched long ago in the dining hall of our beloved Camp Shiktehawk. Sandra, one of the camp leaders was cornered. I imagine the conversation went something like this as Dale used all of his powers of persuasion – “could you lead a choir Sandra? If we could get 20 kids together we could have a choir. You are a teacher, you are great on the piano, you could do this.” I bet Sandra’s mind was swirling “twenty kids, every Sunday! That would be a lot of work, I teach full time. Let me pray about it.” Sandra recruited Leonard, a fellow teacher who had music oozing out of every pore. The answer was yes and in 1977, The Carleton Victoria Youth Choir was born. They achieved their goal of 20 teens –

and 20 more

and 20 more

and 20 more

and 20 more

and 20 more

Leonard and Sandra had no idea what saying yes to God would mean. They had no inkling of the plan that God had for a bunch of acne faced, hyperactive, awkward teens, but they were obedient to His call. I am sure they must have been overwhelmed when God multiplied the dream born at Camp Shiktehawk more than anyone could ever have imagined. They soon would learn just what could be accomplished –

all because of God’s amazing grace.

Numbers went as high as 120 and settled in at a steady 80. We came from the country, the villages, and towns over a 155 km stretch of road from Grand Falls to Nackawic. We met every Sunday en masse at big churches and tiny churches. Imagine teen age drivers travelling on back roads laden with moose and critters and in snow storms for a period of 3 years and no serious accidents –

all because of God’s amazing grace.

All were welcome. There were no auditions. Some could sing, and some of us … not so much. Some of us were there because our friends were there, some of us to occupy our time and keep us out of trouble, and most because we loved to sing. God had a plan and placed each of us there for a reason. We practiced, the churches fed us, and in the evening we put on a concert for them. At times we did not fit on the platform and spilled out in front and to the sides. As we practiced the songs proclaiming God’s glory all afternoon Sunday after Sunday, the words worked their way into our hearts and we were forever changed –

all because of God’s amazing grace.

Leonard and Sandra taught us discipline as we spent long hours practicing. They had the gift of making learning fun and they taught us respect. They were wonderful mentors. We learned what it meant to use our gifts for God’s glory and what it meant to serve others. We gained friends, some for life. And in those uncertain days of our teen years, we learned to have confidence. We grew up in those 3 years and were on the edge of adulthood. We had many decisions to make but we had gained friends that would pray for us. As the choir years came to an end, we stepped into our adult lives. Some would go into full time ministry, and many others would serve for decades in their own communities and churches. Life wasn’t perfect or easy and sometimes there was pain. Sometimes we were obedient even though we had no idea what God was up to, but He guided us safely through –

all because of God’s amazing grace.

Thirty four years later God brought us back together again. Some of us were a little grayer, a little balder, and yes a little plumper. We sat in our seats in the right front of the church automatically as we always did and caught up. There was much laughter and tears and of course stories as we remembered our adventures. We lingered and swapped photos of our grand babies. The inevitable happened and we gathered on the platform with a few pieces of yellowed music to sing one more time.   Sandra said “I haven’t played these songs for 34 years, I’ll never remember!” But she did and as her fingers hit the keys, they defied the three and a half decades of time and the music poured out. Leonard said “I can’t stand for long periods of time anymore.” But he did and he stood in front of us in full director mode and we loved it.

As we stood to sing the years fell away and we were teenagers again for a little while. We faltered through some songs and others we remembered well. One special song has deeper meaning for us now. It is a song that summarizes our journey and we have seen the proof of God’s faithfulness and guidance as we grew older. It fell off our lips with a little more wisdom than it did decades ago. We sang in perfect 4 part harmony as if it was just yesterday that we sang it last –

Amazing grace, oh how sweet the sound
That saved a poor sinner like me!
Though once I was lost, yet now I’m found,
Though I was blinded, now I see!

Through disappointment and danger, too,
Through labours and sorrows we’ve come!
But God’s grace has guided safely through,
And it will surely lead us home!

Then with the ransomed around God’s throne
We’ll praise our redeemer and King!
We’ll tell how His mercy for sin did atone,
Through countless ages this song we’ll sing!

It was all because of God’s amazing grace!
Because on Calvary’s mountain He took my place!
And someday, some glorious morning
I shall see Him face to face,
All because of God’s amazing grace!

(song by Stephen Adams)

Copyright 2014 September 15 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission