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The Pianist

An elderly widow, restricted in her activities, was eager to serve Christ. After praying about this, she realized that she could bring blessing to others by playing the piano. The next day she placed this small ad in the Oakland Tribune: “Pianist will play hymns by phone daily for those who are sick and despondent—the service is free.” The notice included the number to dial. When people called, she would ask, “What hymn would you like to hear?”

Within a few months her playing had brought cheer to several hundred people. Many of them freely poured out their hearts to her, and she was able to help and encourage them. One man who was ousted from his profession for an indiscretion took work as a hod carrier simply to put bread on the table. He was suddenly plunged into a drastically different world. Instead of going to an office each day, he was hauling loads of concrete block up to the fifth level of a construction site. Gone was the piped-in music in the corridors; now he had to endure blaring transistors. Any girl who walked by was subject to rude remarks and whistles. Profanity shot through the air, especially from the foreman, whose primary tactics were whining and intimidation; “For ____ sake, _____ can’t you do anything right? I never worked with such a bunch of ___ ____ in all my life .” Near the end of the third week, the new employee felt he could take no more. “I’ll work till break time this morning,” he told himself, “and then that’s it. I’m going home.” He’d already been the butt of more than one joke when his lack of experience caused him to do something foolish. The stories were retold constantly thereafter. “I just can’t handle any more of this.” A while later, he decided to finish out the morning and then leave at lunchtime.

Shortly before noon, the foreman came around with paychecks. As he handed the man his envelope, he made his first civil comment to him in three weeks. “Hey, there’s a woman working in the front office who knows you. Says she takes care of your kids sometimes.” “Who?” He named the woman, who sometimes helped in the nursery of the church where the man and his family worshiped. The foreman then went on with his rounds. When the hod carrier opened his envelope, he found, along with his check, a handwritten note from the payroll clerk: “When one part of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer with it. Just wanted you to know that I’m praying for you these days.”

He stared at the note, astonished at God’s timing. He hadn’t even known the woman worked for this company. Here at his lowest hour, she had given him the courage to go on, to push another wheelbarrow of mortar up that ramp.

Dean Merrill, Another Chance, Zondervan, 1981, p. 138