This is good example of a
"God-incidence." (similar to what many people call a
"co-incidence"). I'm sending this to my family and
friends who truly appreciate the difference between the
If you take the time to read it,
you will be glad you did.
It was chilly in Manhattan but warm
inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway,
just a skip up from Times Square . Early November
weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint
of the bitter chill of late December and January, but
it's enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie
for available space and warmth. For a musician, it's the
most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I'm
told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if
you play your tunes right.
Apparently, we were striking all the
right chords that night, because our basket was almost
overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig - I was
playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who
also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion
instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the '40s to
the '90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our
emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know
Me by Now," I noticed a lady sitting in one of the
lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the
beat and singing along.
After the tune was over, she
approached me. "I apologize for singing along on that
song. Did it bother you?" she asked.
"No," I replied. "We love it when the
audience joins in.. Would you like to sing up front on
the next selection?" To my delight, she accepted my
invitation. "You choose," I said. "What are you in the
mood to sing?"
"Well. ... do you know any hymns?"
Hymns? This woman didn't know who she was dealing with.
I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was
going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look.
"Oh, I don't know.. There are so many
good ones. You pick one."
"Okay," I replied. "How about 'His
Eye is on the Sparrow'?"
My new friend was silent, her eyes
averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said,
"Yeah. Let's do that one." She slowly nodded her head,
put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced
the center of the shop.. With my two-bar setup, she
began to sing, "Why should I be discouraged? Why should
the shadows come?"
The audience of coffee drinkers was
transfixed.. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino
machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were
doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.
"I sing because I'm happy; I sing
because I'm free. For His eye is on the sparrow And I
know He watches me."
When the last note was sung, the
applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have
rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed,
the woman tried to shout over the din, "Oh, y'all go
back to your coffee! I didn't come in here to do a
concert! I just came in here to get somethin' to drink,
just like you!"
But the ovation continued.. I
embraced my new friend. "You, my dear, have made my
whole year! That was beautiful!"
"Well, it's funny that you picked
that particular hymn," she said.
"Why is that?"
"Well . .." she hesitated again,
"that was my daughter's favorite song."
"Really!" I exclaimed.
"Yes," she said, and then grabbed my
hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it
was business as usual... "She was 16. She died of a
brain tumor last week."
I said the first thing that found its
way through my stunned silence. "Are you going to be
She smiled through tear-filled eyes
and squeezed my hands. "I'm gonna be okay. I've just got
to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and
everything's gonna be just fine."