I’ve always been fascinated by the personality that each group obtains.  Whether the group is large or small each one has its own personality.  As I recently talked after lunch with a small group of health-care professionals about this interesting phenomenon, I was reminded how much this applies to one small group which I’ve led for many years–the choir.  In reality, I’ve led many different choirs in six locations and each one has its own personality.  In addition, the personality of each choir changes as the membership of the choir ebbs and flows.

After a while, everyone gathered their lunch checks and paid their tips.  As I walked from the restaurant my mind was drawn to Leslie.  That is because each time she entered the room where practice was being held, the personality of the choir would change.  Blazing red hair, she stood about four feet tall.  She fought her weight all of her adult life. She would bound into the room, smiling and chattering.  Her presence lifted the dynamics of the choir–not the quality of her voice.  

In fact, as an initial reaction to her joining, I wasn’t sure I would be happy with having Leslie as a choir member–because I had heard her sing.   Her voice would be categorized as a monotone.  However, within weeks I realized that it didn’t matter how pure or unpure her vocal tones were.  Leslie became one of the greatest assets we ever had in a Special Gathering choir.  It was her desire to do her best that impressed all of us.  And that desire was totally infectious.  She brought her signature I-do-my-best drive and sat it smack into the middle of every practice and performance.  Within a few months, choir became her passion; and that passion translated into influence.  She was an igniting spark of goodwill and enthusiasm for all the choir members.

Leslie wanted to be the best singer possible.  She practiced until she literally sang the music in her sleep.  To reward her efforts, I worked hard each Christmas to find a song that would fit the tones that she produced vocally.  That song would contain her solo.  Sometimes, it would only be a few notes but she was trilled with any crumbs I could throw her way.  She rewarded me, as director, with so much excitement that everyone caught her zeal like the H1N1 virus.

Last year, the first week in September we had only started practicing our Christmas music.  The pastor of the church where Special Gathering of Melbourne meets walked through the fellowship hall, during rehearsal.  “You’re singing today, aren’t you?”  he quizzed me. 

Shocked because we had no plans to sing, I responded, “You want us to sing?”

“Yes, you are scheduled for today, aren’t you?  And I want you to sing the song your were just practicing.” 

“Sure, we’ll sing and we can certainly sing the song that we were practicing.”  I turned away from him and looked into the eyes of one of our volunteers who knew we weren’t prepared to sing.  She also knew that we had only sung the song we were practicing two times.  It was the song I had chosen for Leslie’s solo.  The volunteer’s eyes widened as she mouthed to me, “What are you going to do?”

“We sing,” I mouthed back to her, shrugging my shoulders.

I announced to the choir that we were singing at the combined service that morning and that we would sing “Here Is My Heart,” Leslie’s solo.  As I quickly made arrangements to be absent for the few minutes that we would be performing, my mind raced, “Whom can I use instead of Leslie as the soloist?”

My thoughts were abruptly stopped by a Voice that is much smarter than my brain.  “Leslie is to sing the solo.  This is the only time she will be able to sing it.”  I dismissed the last sentence because I didn’t have time to process anything, except that Leslie was to be the soloist.

She sang and she didn’t disappoint me, the audience or the Holy Spirit.  She sang with a glow and anointing that I’ve seldom seen shine from anyone’s face.  The quality of her voice didn’t changed; but the hearts of the audience were transformed.  They wept and so did I.

Leslie looked at me as we were leaving, “I did the best I could,” she said.  I reached over and hugged her.  “You were wonderful,” I said with complete honesty.

On Friday evening, Leslie’s stomach erupted and a hole developed in it.  She coded three times before midnight.  She had emergency surgery. She was given a fifteen percent chance to live. For two weeks she hung between life and death.  Then the Lord graciously took her home. 

At her funeral, the choir tried to sing, “Here is my Heart.”  While it is a beautiful worship song, we aren’t able sing it because it is simply too hard for the choir and me.  Yet for Leslie, we did our best.

Leslie taught me that doing my best doesn’t always mean that things will be sugar cookies and lime sherbert.  However, sometimes–on rare and wonderful occasions–doing our best allows the Holy Spirit to change hearts.