Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Orchestrations of a Divine Conductor

It’s amazing how life imitates a symphony orchestra with all its ebbs and flows. The eternal God, of course, is the Master Conductor, crafting a beautiful symphony where discord once reigned. It reminds me of John Peterson’s old song entitled Life is a Symphony:

Life is a symphony, since the Man of Galilee
Changed my discord into song
Makes life sweet the whole day long.
Life is a symphony, praise the Man of Calvary
No more a stranger, He is the arranger
Of my symphony.

God, in His wisdom, has a plan and a purpose for our lives and orchestrates the events of everyday living to accomplish His ends. We can attest to ways in which a loving God has brought people and events into our lives at strategic times to bring us closer to Himself.

In recent years God, through a series of divine appointments, caused a number of lives to intersect in incredible ways to bring encouragement and support to some of His hurting people.

Dan Lane, a young man from Georgetown, ON who had battled cancer and his wife Charlotte went to Florida in early February, 2002 and, while there, attended a Greater Vision concert at the Word of Life Conference Center in Hudson. Dan and Charlotte shared their story with Gerald Wolfe of Greater Vision and were deeply encouraged by Gerald’s love and compassion. Shortly after their return home, Dan discovered that the cancer had returned.

Later that month I was in Florida to meet with the Toronto Blue Jays during Spring Training. This was at a very difficult time, personally, as I was struggling with much discouragement. Greater Vision’s newly released CD, Live at First Baptist in Atlanta, was mightily used by God to bring me peace and blessing during this time. As a result I e-mailed Gerald Wolfe to tell how their ministry had been such a help. We have continued to stay in touch since then and I met my favourite Southern Gospel trio at a concert in Chambersburg, PA in August, 2002.

On the first Sunday of the 2002 Toronto Blue Jays season I was parking my car before entering Skydome to conduct the chapel services. Glen McCaughtry, an usher supervisor at the ballpark, met me in the parking lot. Glen has been a faithful friend and prayer partner and has offered encouragement within the walls of Skydome many times. Glen told me of Dan Lane’s battle with cancer that morning. I had been feeling apprehensive about our chapels knowing that I would not be allowed access to the clubhouse or the field for the first time in 26 years of ministry to the Jays. Glen’s account of Dan’s plight took my attention off “me” and I was able to pray for and focus on someone else . . . Dan Lane. That meeting in the parking garage was certainly a divine appointment!

I began to pray regularly for the Lanes and discovered that I had met Dan’s parents several years earlier. In May, 2002, I travelled to Georgetown, Ontario to visit Dan in the hospital, having arranged the meeting with Dan’s parents. Instead of being an encouragement to Dan and Charlotte (both of whom I had never met before), I came away sensing that I had been the one who received the greater blessing. As I left the hospital I encouraged the lady at the front door to visit Dan’s room if she wanted a life-changing experience. Words cannot express the wonderful sense of peace and contentment that I witnessed coming from this young man’s life. Not many days after my visit, Dan was ushered into the presence of the Lord he had come to love so intimately.

During Dan’s battle another warrior was faithfully praying for Dan and Charlotte, often calling them on the phone to offer support. Roger Neilson, assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators, was in Toronto the day of my visit to Dan’s hospital room. Even though the Senators had a big playoff game against the Leafs that night, Roger had called Dan. Roger, himself, was fighting cancer. God used Roger to bring encouragement to another brother. Isn’t that what the Christian life is all about!

In December, 2002 I was collecting e-mails from Roger’s friends (and many who had never met him) in an attempt to encourage him. One of those who wrote to Roger was Charlotte Lane’s father who had met Roger many years earlier in Leaside, ON at the ballpark and at The Peoples Church. This man had such respect for Roger as a coach, but more important, as a Christian man who lived his faith. Little did he know then that many years later, this same Roger Neilson would be offering support to his daughter and son-in-law. Again, God orchestrated these circumstances to bring about His purposes. The Divine Conductor was at work again.

I stayed in touch with Charlotte through e-mails. She told me of sending encouragement to Roger Neilson anonymously. Again, an indication of how blessing others often results in our own lives being touched.

Earlier in 2003, Roger Neilson was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada in Ottawa by our Governor General. What a man! This frail, weak man of God graciously accepted the award. People around the world were praying for Roger.

On May 15th, 2003, Gerald Wolfe and Greater Vision were in Georgetown at the Lane’s home church for the Dan Lane Memorial Concert. Charlotte spoke during the intermission as the Lord gave her strength. What an evening of tribute that was, not only to Dan Lane but more than that, to the God of all comfort who has sustained the Lane family.

A little over a month later, on June 21st, 2003 Roger Neilson was called home to his eternal reward. I had the distinct privilege of participating in Roger’s funeral. Charlotte Lane and her father were there, paying their respects. What a time of celebration it was!

God in his wonderful way brought numerous lives together for His glory. Dan and Charlotte Lane. Charlotte’s father. Dan’s parents, Gary and Cathy. Dan’s brother Dustin. Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin and Jason Waldroup of Greater Vision. Glen McCaughtry, my prayer partner. Roger Neilson, a fellow warrior. And, finally, me. Why me? Why was I awarded the privilege of listening to this beautiful symphony orchestrated by the King of Glory? I don’t know but what I do know is that my life has been enriched by intersecting with these fellow pilgrims and I praise God for allowing me a small glimpse of His incredible workings. It’s thrilling to stand back and watch and listen to God conduct His orchestra! Play on!

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