February 2, 2012

The "Invisible" Piano

H urry up, Wil ... I'm picking you up in 10 minutes. We're going to Jo'burg." 
That was our friend Pat du Toit on the telephone that unforgettable November morning of 2008. He would give me no further information. “I’ll tell you in the car” was all I could get out of him. I had just emerged from relaxing in a warm bathtub and naturally was most curious why I was being given just a few minutes to get myself ready for an unscheduled trip to Johannesburg.

I found two traveling companions in the car: Gladys Leoni and Pat’s wife, Margie. We were all curious to know why we were going to Johannesburg; and Pat began to explain.

"Don't you want a sale?" Pat replied. Then the miracle began to unfold.

But let me backtrack somewhat. We were all members of the Advent Haven Choir, and the choir needed an instrument for an upcoming music program. The piano we used for practicing was a fairly large instrument on loan to the church, and it needed to be returned to its owner. We were in need of a lower piano that would allow me (as choir director and pianist) to have eye contact with the choir members. We had borrowed a keyboard on previous occasions, but this never worked as well as a piano. And finding a suitable instrument had become a matter of urgency for the whole church.

Pat explained that he had had a surprise telephone call from an anonymous donor.

2012 1503 page32Who on earth could afford to donate a piano? That was the thought going through all of our minds.

Pat told us he had called every conceivable source to find a secondhand instrument, but that none of them had anything readily available. Which, in itself, seemed strange. Usually one can find secondhand instruments quite easily. We had a good laugh when he told us he had called “Yamaha Dealers” in Johannesburg, who told him they had only motorbikes for sale. However, they did refer him to their music warehouse, whose manager said something strange to Pat. He asked him: “Why are you calling me today?

Pat explained that we were urgently looking for a piano. “But why are you calling me today?” he asked again.

“Don’t you want a sale?” Pat replied.

Then the miracle began to unfold.

The manager told Pat that something inexplicable had happened in their warehouse. They had found a brand-new piano, which had been off the market for more than 30 years, unopened in its wooden case. It seemed to have been overlooked for many years. But why they could not say. “You will not find this model anywhere in the world on the floor of any of our dealers; it’s obsolete!” he said.

The price?

“You can have it for less than half the price of current models,” he added.

No wonder Pat was excited. He had been thinking of a secondhand piano. Now a brand-new instrument could be bought for the amount of money available! But how was it possible that no one had noticed this piano on the warehouse floor for all those years? We were convinced that God had kept it “invisible” because He knew of our need so many years in the future. Says the Lord through the prophet Isaiah: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isa. 65:24, KJV).

We arrived at the Yamaha agent, Lovemore’s Music Shop, to view this wonderful gift. And there it was … a beautiful, brand-new, rosewood piano. Even the wood was the right color and would match the interior of our church! It was a genuine Yamaha model of many years ago. I knew, because I have an identical model presently in my daughter’s home.

As I sat down and let my fingers run over the lovely keys, I decided that “Majesty” should be the first anthem I would play. It was a favorite of the choir and it needed strong-sounding chords. As I played I noticed an audience gathering round. I played on and Gladys then took her turn. We were thrilled beyond words! The assistants stated they had never heard such beautiful music. (Did heavenly musicians assist us? I’m sure they did!)

Pat, we noticed, had moved off to one side where he was in conversation with the manager of the outlet. Pat had convinced him that we needed an even larger discount on the piano, for a “cash deal.”

“Do you want me to cry?” he asked Pat.

But he dropped the price by another third of the “half price” originally quoted. Blessings more than we ever thought possible.

What a God!
The piano was delivered the following day—just two days before our musical program. It came in time to be placed strategically for our final choir practice that evening. What a wonderful God we serve! He answered our need in such a timely manner, even before we asked!          

We had a wonderful music program. The choir sang as never before, their gratefulness resounding through the church, and the loud “Amens” from the audience adding to their enthusiasm.

We will never cease to be grateful to our anonymous donor—still unknown to us. God moved upon the heart of this person at a time when we were in need. We had no funds to purchase another instrument. But our greatest appreciation goes to our loving Father in heaven—who is not unknown. He knew our need long before we had even thought to make it known. What a gracious God we serve! His MAJESTY deserves all the honor, glory, praise, and worship due to Him from our grateful human hearts.

Wilhelmina (Wil) Dunbar is a retired musician from Helderberg College in South Africa, where for many years she served as head of the Music Department. At present she and her husband are living in the Advent Haven Retirement Village at Heidelberg, Gauteng, South Africa. This article first appeared in the December, 2010, issue of Adventist World.