The life and ministry of Gospel pianist Anthony Burger is a testimony that faith and prayer are more powerful than the tools of medical science.
I just learned about the amazing life story of Anthony Burger. That’s me. I’m always the Johnny-come-lately to news stories. As I was browsing Pandora Internet Radio the other day, looking for instrumental praise music, I came across the biography of this amazing pianist.
When eight-month-old Anthony was just learning to walk, he tripped on his walker and landed on a floor heating duct. The baby suffered third degree burns on his face, legs, and hands. At one point, the family wasn’t even certain he would live. The doctors said he would probably never be able to use his hands again.
Stop right there. Can you put yourself in the place of his mom? Think of her agony as she watched the suffering of her child? Imagine her holding those bandaged little hands and her cries to her Heavenly Father for mercy, that God would heal the hands of her little boy.
Here’s the rest of the story.
God went far beyond healing those burns. By age three, it was evident that Anthony had a talent for the piano. At age five, he was accepted into the University of Tennessee’s Cadek Conservatory and soon developed a repertoire of classical music. By ten-years-old, he fell in love with Sothern Gospel music and in his teens, he was touring with the Gospel group, The Kingsmen. Over the next thirty years, he performed solo piano and played with groups, and was part of the Gaither Homecoming Team. In fact, he died of a massive heart attack at age 46 in 2005 while performing on a Gaither Homecoming Cruise.
I think back to that moment when Mom and Dad looked at those charred hands. What if they had given up? What if they had believed the doctors instead of believing in a God who can do mighty things? Their faith response reminds me of this truth: It’s not what life dishes out to us that shapes us into who we are. How we respond to life is what makes us into all we can be. Our choice to depend on God, His mighty power, and His infinite wisdom will give us the courage and creativity to overcome anything.
It is so like our God to take a seemingly impossible situation literally out of the ashes and do great things anyway. Baby with burned hands? No problem. Let’s make a classical and inspirational pianist out of him who will bless thousands.
Nothing can overcome God’s power. Nothing.
That’s the message of Liz Curtis Higgs’ book, “Really Bad Girls of the Bible,” the book our online Bible study group is now studying. Liz says in her opening chapter:
“If the first Bad Girls of the Bible book was about grace, this second one is all about the sovereignty of God, the unstoppable power of God to accomplish His perfect will, no matter how much we mess up.”
No situation is too tragic for God’s redemptive restoration.
Fire? Child abuse? Handicap? Dysfunctional family? Years of endless, thankless caregiving? Injustice at the hands of the government? Nothing is too big, too heavy, too complex, or too gnarly for our God. He who stands at the entrance of an empty tomb shouts victory. Even death can’t stop Him from bringing life.
He may not splash His glory across the canvas of our lives in such a public display as he did with the life of Anthony Burger. But He can use our struggles to build our character, shine light into darkness, and make us invincible to anything the world cares to throw at us.
Let’s make it personal. What situation is hanging you up today? What one thing is keeping you from being what you want to be, doing what you want to do? We’re not talking selfish wants and whims here. We’re talking about being the person God has planned for us to be.
Compared to the burned hands of Anthony Burger, my list looks pretty pathetic. A bad night’s sleep is keeping me from writing, I thought first thing this morning. A cold day, insensitive words from a family member or friend, an ill-timed phone call – all attempt to derail my good intentions and my peace of mind. Oh really? See, I told you it was pathetic.
Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Life, death, powers, angels, demon, things above, things below, things present or things to come. Nothing. Nothing will get in his way of loving me, planning a fantastic life for me, and bringing me home to life eternal. Nothing can get in His way of accomplishing great things for His Kingdom. Not fires, not the current political policy makers, not even ISIS. Nothing. My God is bigger than them all.
He can even train burned hands to play beautiful music.
Join a growing group of women who are studying Liz Curtis Higgs book, Really Bad Girls of the Bible. You can purchase a used copy of this book through Amazon or Abebooks. Each week, my Friday blog will focus on the chapter for that week. Each Monday, my Facebook Author page will give a prompt for that week’s lesson to stir our thinking.
Let’s get into the Word of God and experience for ourselves His transforming power and grace.