SPECIAL MOMENTS WITH DR. BALL OFFER WORSHIP REMINDERS
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 held powerful moments that I was not at all expecting. Those moments continue to speak into worship gatherings for me. I want to pass those thoughts on to you, knowing that you who help to facilitate the worship of your church likewise have encounters and moments through your days that deserve to speak into the worship gatherings of those you lead.
As I have previously shared, the week of February 25 – March 1 was a week I had committed to serving as clinician for the Watauga Baptist Association’s 35th Annual Music School. I love doing this event, and spending time with the folks in the upper northeast corner of our state. During that same week Scott Andrews’ dad went home to be with the Lord. I felt that pull to be in several places at one time. As part of my personal journey through Lent this year I was praying for wisdom and insight even into these pressing needs, and my responses to them as a minister, and as a brother in Christ. The Lord impressed upon my spirit that I could not be everywhere. That conviction brought about spiritual surrender followed by a sense of peace. On Tuesday, I received a text message from Dr. Clark Measels at Carson Newman telling me that Dr. Louis Ball had gone to the hospital and was likely going to refuse any drastic treatment. I rearranged Wednesday afternoon appointments and drove to Knoxville to see Dr. Ball.
The hour in that hospital room was priceless in multiple ways. First, Dr. Ball wanted to process his decision regarding his refusal of surgery. We talked about facing our fears, we prayed and cried a bit. He knew where He was going, and who was waiting for him there. Amidst his words of affirmation of my work (he was always a great encourager) I told him how meaningful it was for me to see Mary Charlotte and him sitting at the front of the balcony at First Baptist Jefferson City during our Youth Project Youth Choir events, and at the chapel when the Tennessee Mens Chorale sang. He seemed to take some pleasure in those memories. We talked about the early days of the “Volunteer Chorale” as it was known in its start, when he directed the group. We laughed a bit about the blessing of directing directors. He had some humorous remembrances about singing for WSM Television, the Southern Baptist Church Music Conference, and other presentations where the group felt the pressure of being at their best. During our time of visiting I was keenly aware of the Spirit’s presence warming our hearts, and freeing our lips to express kindness and care.
An hour or so after I left the hospital I received another text from Clark Measels, this time stating, “Louis has gone into a coma.” Thursday morning’s 8:29am message was that our friend had died. My mind raced to consider the precious gift of those moments on Wednesday, the fact that I was able to be there to experience them, and the reminder that though I could not be everywhere, the Holy Spirit can be, and was comforting our brother and his family in Memphis, even as He was present with those close to Dr. Ball.
I do not profess to know what spirits, like Dr. and Mrs. Ball, can and cannot see from their knew home with Jesus. I have heard pastors and others speculate on such matters. I do know this, however. I have a vivid image in my mind of Louis & Mary Charlotte Ball seated in the front row of the balcony at First Baptist Church Jefferson City, Tennessee, overlooking a mass choir of students singing anthems of church music offering praise to the Lord. I have a picture in mind of that same couple seated toward the back of that same room listening to a choir comprised of Worship Minister Musicians. I have in my memory bank words of priceless affirmation in these scenarios when these two church music giants said, “Keep it up!” “You are doing the right things.” “This is what we need.”
I find that during gathered worship, as the church sings, there is something of the spirit and visual memories of Louis & Mary Charlotte that speak to me, and remind me of a great cloud of witnesses, and remind me that those gathered on a given Sunday morning are not the first, nor the last, to join the song of praise. I pray that we who have opportunity to lead in worship through music or otherwise will broaden our horizon to grasp more of the breadth of worship. It is so much larger than “what we want right now,” for we “join the everlasting song and crown Him Lord of all!”