Do you awaken in the middle of the night for no obvious reason? It happens to me often. I think it’s because God wants to tell us something. In the quiet, still of the night to just reflect on Him.
That’s why I keep a transistor radio on the nightstand. I’ll usually scroll the Christian stations, and always find a program that is discussing something I need to hear. That’s how God speaks to me.
The title of her book is a reference to the silver box that she inherited from her father. Inside the box was her father’s life story — his goals, aspirations, and unfulfilled dreams. It was a bittersweet tale of a gifted man whose God-given talents were only partially realized.
Littauer also shared the story of her mother-in-law who came from an upper-crust background. She was sophisticated, elegant, regal, proper; and she knew how to pour afternoon tea from a silver tea-pot — “All the things I could not do,” Littauer said. “My mother-in-law was unapproachable. She was so superior, and seemed so perfect and aloof. She wasn’t real.”
One day, Littauer did sit down with her mother-in-law in an attempt to establish some sort of relationship. The conversation (which takes an interesting turn) went something like this:
Littauer: Mother, what was it like when you were younger?
Mother: Oh, I had a wonderful man in college. We were going to be married. When I graduated from Cornell, at 19, we separated for the summer and he was going to call me in the fall, and we were going to get married.
Littauer: Well, what happened?
Mother: Summer ended and he never called.
Littauer: What did you do?
Mother: I was the dutiful child. My mother didn’t like him. He wasn’t her class, and didn’t have money. Mother always said that it’s just as easy to marry rich than marry poor.
Littauer: How did you meet your husband?
Mother: My marriage to your father-in-law was arranged. Mother approved of him so I was the obedient daughter and fulfilled my role. I gave him five children … but I didn’t love him.
Littauer: So, you didn’t love my husband’s father?
Mother: Years later I was at a party, and I saw someone who looked familiar standing across the room. I walked over, our eyes met, and in a moment we recognized each other. He was my college boyfriend and I asked him, ‘Why didn’t you call?’
And he answered, ‘I did call — many times — but your mother always answered the phone. She said that you were not interested in me, and insisted that I stop calling. The last time I called she told me that you were engaged, and to never call again.’
(In tears) My mother’s words ruined my life.
Littauer: How would you have liked your life to be different?
Mother: I always wanted to sing opera. Let me show you something.
(Excuses herself and brings back a box. She pulls out a picture from Cornell.)
That’s a picture of me on stage. I was the star of Cornell’s opera production. I majored in music. I wanted to be an opera star, but mother said there was no money in it. I never sang again after college. I want you to give this picture to your daughter so that she will know her grandmother could have been somebody.
Littauer was stunned. She never thought of her mother-in-law as a young woman with boyfriends and dreams and talents. “I didn’t know she had problems like this,” she said. “I didn’t know she could sing! I have learned to not judge anyone for we don’t know the person’s life story nor the revealing secrets they keep hidden inside, or in a box.”
Her mother-in-law was later afflicted with dementia, and could not even speak. Littauer once asked her nurse if she ever uttered a word.
“No,” she said, “but it’s the strangest thing. Sometimes she will just stand up and start singing opera. The attendants all applaud and she clasps her hands, bows, and sits down again.”
“My mother-in-law,” said Littauer, “died with the music still in her.”
Everyone has a God-given talent (see Matthew 25:14–30). Our challenge is to use that gift for His glory. Littauer’s mother-in-law died with an unfulfilled gift.
Each of us must give an accounting of how we are using the gifts, talents, skills, and resources that God has entrusted to us. There are obstacles to be sure. Friends and family may offer resistance, or even discourage — maybe even sabotage — our efforts to follow God’s calling.
What a tragedy that a person’s life-purpose can be derailed and consigned to a box of memories stored in a musty closet.
I exhort you, my family, do not die with the music still in you. Do not be discouraged, do not be deterred, but live every day to the fullest; and to the glory of God.
Do not let a box of unfulfilled dreams be your final testament.
Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ