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LifeWay store employee faces fear, helps customer

PADUCAH, Ky. (BP)–An employee at the LifeWay Christian Store in Paducah, Ky., is a stronger woman today because she met the challenge of facing a fear.

A customer, not a regular shopper, recently went into the store looking for a recording of “Mansion over the Hilltop” for her father’s funeral to be held the next day.

The customer said her mother had requested that particular song be played at the funeral because it was his favorite. She asked that only the instrumental version of the song be played because hearing the words would be “too difficult.”

Marilyn Gregory, the store’s assistant manager, searched for the song but with no success. She even called other bookstores in the area, but none had the recording.

Realizing how important this music was to the customer, Gregory volunteered to attend the funeral to play the song on the piano.

The next day, not only did Gregory play “Mansion over the Hilltop,” but she also stayed to play several more songs for the service.

The customer told the store’s manager, Jayson McKeown, she could not believe someone she didn’t know would come to the funeral of a stranger to play a song.

What the customer didn’t know, McKeown said, was, “It was a miracle for Marilyn to be able to offer to play for this service. Just a few months ago Marilyn had a fear of playing or singing in front of anybody.”

Gregory said her piano training years ago “was very technical. I played from the music, but not really from the heart. I really didn’t feel comfortable, no, I was terrified, at the thought of playing in front of people.”

Why she decided to volunteer to play “was just the prompting of the Holy Spirit,” Gregory said. “It certainly wasn’t my own idea.”

But the Lord began dealing with her about the gift he had given her, she said, and she began to gain confidence. She said God gave her the strength and courage to use her musical talent to become a blessing to someone in need. “He gave me a real trial by fire!”

It was a case of seeing a need and meeting it, Gregory said. “The customer told me there wasn’t anyone at her church who felt like they could learn the music overnight and play it at the funeral. It wasn’t a difficult piece and I knew I could do it. I knew, too, that it would mean a lot to her.”

LifeWay Christian Resources President James T. Draper Jr. included the story of Marilyn’s ministry to a grieving family in a recent edition of LifeWay@Heart, an e-mailed devotion message distributed free to readers around the world. Draper observed that “people may never reach their potential when they fear failure. What a loss of God-given talent! Imagine our world if those who have discovered cures for illnesses had never tried to do the research. What if our favorite musicians had not taken a risk? In the Christian world, could we have lost our best preachers and teachers to fear of being a failure?”

Gregory is living proof that taking a risk and doing what needs to be done is beneficial both to the one who takes the risk and the one who benefits.

“I still don’t like to play in front of people,” Gregory said, “but God is giving me more and more opportunities to do that and to show me that he is sufficient to get me through whatever he wants me to do.”
Subscriptions to Draper’s LifeWay@Heart e-mail devotional, distributed two to three times each month, may be requested at http://www.lifeway.com/form_heart.asp.

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  • Polly House