Finding Middle C
Shortly after we got married, my husband bought an old upright piano. He’s a musician and I’m sure he thought it would be his toy. He (we) had no idea that a house full of children would eventually spend years practicing their own skills on it.
The ‘growing’ of a musician is an interesting process to watch, especially if you’re the only non-musician (me) in a family of 7. As soon as each child could maneuver it, they would stand and reach for the piano keys high above their heads and “play music” until their arms were too tired to lift anymore. Later they would beg to sit on Dad’s lap and bang away at the keys, loving every loud minute of it. But, eventually into each “banger’s” life came the day when they were introduced to the special disciplines that only a piano teacher can dish out. She really wasn’t as interested in their loud, weird rhythms as Mom and Dad had been. She had other things in mind like practicing scales and sight reading and music theory and Bach competitions. There isn’t one brain cell in a seven-year-old noggin that can comprehend 20-30 minutes a day of practicing scales. Over and over – forward and backward – left hand – right hand –both hands - next scale – start over – forward and backward – left hand – right hand – and on and on and the same goes for the next day and the next. They sit there day after day repeating tedious and seemingly insignificant finger exercises, and sight reading and playing little snippets of songs about a lazy ant or a dancing flower. It borders on torture for an energetic kid who’s dreaming of riding his bike or doing flips on the trampoline. Practicing is difficult for them because kids are creatures who live in the “now”. (If it’s not fun now, then why am I doing it?) This is the not-so-fun part for the parent because somehow we have to keep them motivated during the dullness of the “discipline” years.
But Hallelujah! when it all comes together! Before long they begin to read music and are able to play things that kind of sound like music. However, the real victory comes when they reach an awesome stage that they never saw coming. They discover that they only need to look at a sheet of music and their fingers simply know what to do. After years of practicing the rote disciplines of music, they begin to operate in the freedom of being rooted and grounded in layers of theory. Their fingers move with a muscle-memory that developed without their notice. They “think” musically. They are then internally motivated by the joy that comes from being able to “flow” effortlessly in the realm of all things musical. Parental “influence” is no longer needed. My only job then is to fork out cash for the instruments! (kidding – their taste is too expensive.)
I think God must feel like a ‘piano’ parent sometimes. As His children, we struggle with some of the daily disciplines of the Christian life. . . . “love your neighbor as yourself” (every day?). . . “forgive one another” (again?). . . “esteem others more highly than yourself” (again today?) . . . “tell the truth” (every time?) . . . “hide my word in your heart” (how much do I have to memorize?) . . . “walk by faith and not by sight” (but I don’t understand!) . . . “love your enemies” (even after what they did to me?) . . . “trust Me” (but I can’t find any evidence that You’re near!) . . . “respect the authority I’ve placed you under” (but I’m not being treated fairly) . . . “pray without ceasing” (it doesn’t feel like anyone is listening) . . . “and having done all, continue to stand” (but I’m so tired of this situation) . . . “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (but the Bible is hard to read) . . . “delight yourself in the Lord” (I’ve got problems, I don’t delight in anything!)
Geez! I’ve said every one of those things!
But, if we could learn to ignore our bratty flesh and exercise a little spiritual discipline. . . eventually tiny, barely noticeable parts of us begin to change.
Each time we love when our flesh wants to hate, each time we praise though our heart is broken, each time we obey when it seems unfair, we grow. Our spirit strengthens and our flesh weakens when we choose to trust Him in the darkness and confusion. Our inner strength swells as we daily digest the Word because it is alive and can only deliver life to those who partake. When we make a decision to forgive simply because it honors God, we become a little more like Jesus. Before we know it, the spiritual muscle-memory kicks in and we begin to think differently. Soon we’re not as concerned with getting our way as we are with showing love. We’re not as concerned with being right as we are with being reconciled. We can’t lie because the truth has become so welcoming and pure. We are drawn to the Word because it is a letter from home. We pray, we love, we give, we serve, we forgive because, without realizing it, we are slowly changing. Though we have been unaware of it, as we have chosen to practice the everyday “scales” of spiritual disciplines, we are being prepared to operate in an unseen kingdom where the miraculous is commonplace and where unwavering trust is as essential as oxygen. God knows what He is attempting to develop in us and in Revelation 5:10 He reveals His end game:
And You have made them a kingdom, a royal race, and priests to our God and they shall reign as kings over all the earth. (Amplified)
I’m thinking that kings and priests shouldn’t be running around looking for sheet music or trying to find ‘middle C’. They'll need to operate from deep within where the disciplines of God are fixed and steady and quickly accessible.
I’m thinking that future kings and priests should know their “scales!”
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