I have always been allergic to musical instruments.
As a teenager, I was an enthusiastic singer, but I could not bear to touch an instrument, let alone attempt to play one. I avoided instruments like the plague.
The reason for this was my lack of coordination. I was accident-prone. I was constantly walking into things, tripping over, and generally making a mess of things I touched. I was chronically uncoordinated: I could not catch anything thrown in my direction.
So you can imagine my aversion to anything instrumental. I was terrified I would break something if I went near it. I loved music, but I seemed to lack the basic brain connection between imagining music and producing music with my own hands.
I was terrified of breaking something.
I therefore spent most of my teenage life focusing on singing and composition. I started writing songs. I sang in choirs and school productions. I naturally gravitated toward other musicians, people who were just as nuts about music as I was.
One of my musician friends was the piano man. He was a proficient pianist as well as being a talented songwriter and composer. He was a Christian and loved to worship God.
When I was seventeen years old, the piano man prayed for me. I remember his words: “Steph, everything I have, I impart to you.” At the time, I assumed he was referring to Godly wisdom or something similarly spiritual. This will be interesting, I thought.
I had no idea.
From that day on, something strange happened. I felt drawn to pianos and keyboards. It was a magnetic pull, an inner attraction, something intangible yet undeniable. It was like chemistry on a first date.
It was a magnetic pull, something intangible yet undeniable.
It seemed that wherever I went – at school, home, church or friends’ houses – pianos stood out to me as though lit up by stadium spotlights. They were everywhere. I wanted to reach out and touch them. I wanted to play.
I had never been to a keyboard lesson in my life. But I had studied music at school and could read guitar chord charts. I started applying what I knew to the keyboard. A couple of muso friends gave me tips along the way. “Try your fingers in this position.” “Play it simpler.” “Less is more.”
Before I knew it, I was playing songs at church. I was improvising during worship. I was writing songs using the keyboard. I slowly realised the Holy Spirit had been behind the attraction, all along.
The Holy Spirit had been behind the attraction all along.
I began to challenge myself. I picked difficult songs with fast and complex chord progressions to see what I could do. To my euphoric delight, I discovered that while I could not play everything, I could play much more than I had dared to imagine.
The Holy Spirit continued to challenge me. When I would play keyboard at church, he would hover nearby, every now and again leaning in to whisper, “Try this melody,” or “Play that double-time,” or “Now give it all you’ve got.” He still whispers in my ear when I play.
I thought the piano man was my friend: the one who originally prayed for me and imparted that musical aptitude into my life. But all that time it was the Holy Spirit, nudging me, encouraging me, gifting me with musicianship. For this gift I will be ever grateful.
Do you have a testimony of a gift God has given to you? How has God encouraged you to use your gifts lately? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.