Ecclesiastes 9:10 (New International Version)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
"Okay, from the beginning!" he said and the small town orchestra played from their big town souls and filled the auditorium with love.
"How much longer do you think you can do this?" he was asked one day at rehearsal.
He's thought about that enough recently that he was quick to answer.
"Until the last song plays in my heart," he replied smiling.
It's been an issue of sorts in recent years. Jack has conducted that orchestra for more years than most can remember. It's an issue because there's a few younger folks who would love a chance at it, too.
"The only reason I've stayed here in this town this long is to have a chance to conduct the orchestra. If I move to any of the bigger cities I better have some experience or they wouldn't even consider me," Jessie said. "But there's no reason to wait any longer. Jack will never stop."
I don't know if anyone had ever approached him about this. I mean who'd want to even bring it up?
"From the beginning," Jack said as he raised his baton. It was the way he started each piece.
"From the beginning. That's how long he's been here," Jessie said quietly to his friend.
"And until the very end," his friend added.
They had practiced their music for the big show three times a week for months.
"Everybody attends, you know. It's almost expected," Millie told one of her customers at the beauty parlor.
So it was. The big night arrived and the auditorium was filled.
"Standing room only!" the usher shouted to the crowd just outside the doors.
"But they don't mind. They've stood before. It's certainly worth it all. For this was the big event in town. The night of the "Summertime Ball."
Everyone was waiting as the musicians took their places.
"Where's Jack?" one member asked.
"He'll be here. Don't you worry," Jessie said sarcastically.
But the 7:00 curtain call was just a few minutes away.
"You better call his house. He's never late like this."
Just then a young girl entered from the back of the auditorium. She was sobbing, nearly breathless as she walked toward the stage.
"It's Jack...he's...Jack asked me to tell you that he is sorry he could not be here this evening and...asked for your forgiveness," she said nervously.
The crowd moaned with disappointment.
"What's wrong?" someone shouted.
Pausing to catch her breath she then said, "Jack has left us. As he was getting ready for tonight..." she sighed deeply and then continued. "He asked that the performance go on as scheduled."
"But who will lead the orchestra?" someone asked.
Turning toward the stage she said, "He asked that Jessie take over tonight."
Jessie stood up and scanned the crowd of familiar faces.
"I know I can do this," he thought to himself.
There was an unusual silence in the auditorium as Jessie took his place at the podium. He turned to the audience and said, "This is dedicated to Jack."
Then facing the musicians he raised his hands and said, "From the beginning."
His friend added, "And until the very end."
Dear Lord we pray that we would do our very best from the beginning to the end. We pray for strength to do our very best for You. In Jesus name, Amen.