Thoughts from a Musician's Heart
UNEXPECTED PLACES by Laurel Ewell
In Genesis 12:1-3 Abram was told by God to leave his country, family, and father’s house to go to a land that God would show him. God promises Abram that he would receive many blessings in this unknown, faraway place. This was my experience in 1979. I had finished college, was engaged, and had plans to attend graduate school for a master’s degree. The only problem was that despite our efforts my fiancé and I were accepted to different schools. The logical thing to do was to separate and attend those schools, delaying our marriage. However, an opportunity arose for us to leave our country, family, and culture to go and perform with the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Today this is often a path for young musicians, but it wasn’t in 1979. Friends and family cautioned me against giving up an opportunity to study at a famous institution to go into an unknown situation. But as the days passed it became clear that this was the direction God wanted us to take.
Just like Abram we didn’t know what lay ahead of us on this journey. I often think about the risks we took in taking this leap. We were leaving behind coveted places at elite music schools, we only had a one-year contract, the cost of housing was extremely high compared to our salaries, the quality of the orchestra was unknown. Had we remained and continued to our separate graduate schools we would certainly have received good musical training, but we would have missed the professional and spiritual experiences that awaited us there.
Our seven years in Hong Kong were filled with innumerable professional opportunities, performing with musicians from all over the world. We also witnessed the mission field in action, becoming close friends with missionaries who were serving throughout Asia. But most significantly, the cultural experience of living as an expatriate in a British/Chinese society gave us a new perspective on the world and the place of the church in that world.
Today, as musicians, our greatest opportunity for professional and spiritual growth may be in an unexpected place should God lead us there. Those places and experiences may not seem logical at first since they lead us in a different path than we planned but often that is where our greatest growth as both a Christian and a musician lies.
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33) May we follow Him to those unexpected places!