(con't from Part II)
The presence of a 3rd manual isn't absolutely necessary to an organist, but when you have it, it opens up an entirely new dimension of study, and it's a tremendous help.
For all of its many advantages, the Baldwin 636 analog 2 manual organ I had at home over 20 years ago lacked the ability to do that.
One day my mother phoned me to let me know that she had seen an ad in the local newspaper that new and pre-owned 2 and 3 manual church organs were for sale at a music store about 80 miles from home, and she told me I ought to go there some time and see what they've got.
I took her with me that day, and when we pulled into the parking lot, what should be in the front showroom window but a tremendous V/110 digital church organ (photo) just bristling with lighted drawknobs, pistons, and other mechanical controls, an instrument made to handle the largest cathedral worship service, and then some.
Up until then I had never even seen (except in photos) an electronic organ this large let alone played one; I had played on several 3 and 4 manual pipe organs up until then, but that was all.
When we walked in, the store manager was very kind and asked me to play it, saying that no one who visits his store ever seems interested enough in it to turn it on and play it.
I thanked him but declined his kind offer at first; I didn't want to get attached to something I knew had to be far, far beyond my financial means.
My mother then reminded me that it might be my only chance to play one like this and pressured me to do it; so, I kind of reluctantly sat down to it, turned it on, and put it through its paces; and it responded magnificently.
A quick glance at its manual layout and stops quickly showed that it mimicked essentially the same type of design submitted by the late Virgil Fox for the 1974 Rodgers Carnegie Hall instrument (which, at the time, was the largest electronic organ in the world) only on a smaller scale, omitting certain stops and couplers and adding a few different ones.
But basically, everything that needed to be part of a first magnitude concert organ (or church organ able to handle the largest cathedral service) WAS there.
When I asked him what this beast cost he gave me a figure of some $90K, with the price expected to leap soon to around $100K.
Knowing that I could have bought a nice piece of real estate for that much money or less, I told the store manager about what I had at home, that it was worth $18K new but it was all I had for a trade, it was in mint condition and perfect working order satisfactory for my basic needs, but that I really needed that 3rd manual to continue my studies.
The store manager, after listening to me play, agreed that I really did need an even larger instrument for the sake of my progress, and we'd have to get to work figuring out how to get me an organ with a 3rd manual.
After I asked him why he had such a huge instrument in his store he said he wanted this stock 5 manual organ for a demonstrator instrument, something with everything the company could put into an organ because it cost less to insure it on his floor than to insure any 2 other instruments which had the same features.
The trouble was, once he brought it to his store, no one from the various organ committees of the churches who visited the store showed any interest in playing it; the organists from the nearby churches were too intimidated by its sheer size so he was "stuck" with something he wanted to remove from his floor, and selling it would do more for him than create business; it would solve a problem for him.
Based on past experience [See blog, The Power Of Prayer, Parts I, II] I knew this wasn't much worse of a financial obstacle that the right kind of prayer hadn't removed from my path before.
So, I set to work, praying that same prayer of faith once more, asking God to make it possible for me to have regular access to an instrument like this, which would open up an entire new universe of study for me and teach me everything there was to know about organ playing, to continue becoming whatever it was God wanted me to become as an organist.
Around 4 weeks later the phone rang.
It was the store manager.
He said, "You're not going to believe this, but a letter just arrived from the company President telling me to dispose of any stock 4 and 5 manual instruments I may have on my floor AT COST, because the company had just made the decision to discontinue regular production of these very large instruments (except on special order) and were moving to a line of strictly 2 and 3 manual organs.
I was puzzled at first to hear this; the company President had some fine products here to promote, and it seemed to me to be a poor business decision at the time to drop these large stock models from production, not to mention the fact that they bring out the best in the music performed on them.
Since organs and pianos have a 100% mark-up, this brought the cost down to around $45K, which I told him was great but still too steep for me to afford.
He said, "Well, you haven't heard the rest of this. A church from Illinois was in here last week looking for an organ just like yours, so I sold them the one you have."
I said, "Wait a minute. It's not even for sale. How can you have sold it to them? ..."
He said, "Well, (laughing), I did. And I'll give you the full amount of what it's worth on a trade [$18K], and to sweeten the deal to get this big instrument off my floor I'll even pay the sales tax for you (which amounted to nearly $3K)."
This brought my actual out-of-pocket expense down to around $27K with no sales tax to pay, which, when financed over 84 months, was like a car payment, something I could afford.
Now, this could be no freak coincidence; these kinds of things just don't happen by themselves; something else had to be at work to create this open door, something powerful operating from an unseen place where creation has its home.
It wasn't due to some give-away, so-called "dumb luck," or some sudden, unexpected windfall of inherited money or enormous tax refund that made this possible.
It wasn't a gift from a filthy rich admirer who happened to feel sorry for me.
It wasn't because of some "educational fund" set up to accept donations for my personal benefit.
And it didn't happen because it was stolen in the dead of the night (God knows it took 10 men to get it off the truck and into the house)!
No, it came about for one reason, and one reason only:
A one-time brand new door of opportunity was created where a door wasn't there before and opened up like a worm hole at the command of God at precisely the right moment, and it was faith and prayer that moved His hand to act.
The proof for all of this has been sitting in my home (photo) for the last 20 years, and any "Doubting Thomases" are always welcome to visit me in my home any time, play it, experience its wonderful effects, put their hand into its side, and believe.
I relate this story to inform you that this same conduit of Power exists to help you in whatever situation you may happen to find yourself.
All you have to do is believe, pray for help the right way, in faith, for the right reason, and give God a chance.
He's no respecter of persons.
He'll open a door for you, too.