Monday, August 15

A Different Arrangement

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor be hasty and miss the way. --Proverbs 19:2

Our church choir has begun rehearsing some pieces from Handel's "Messiah." As the church pianist, I am faced with the task of learning the accompaniment. Despite hours of practice, I have been struggling to hit all the right notes, let alone play the pieces at the prescribed tempo. Last night was particularly frustrating for me and I left rehearsal feeling utterly defeated.

My husband owns a less complicated copy (piano reduction I believe is the correct term), so he suggested that I try using the simpler version until I was well acquainted with the pieces. Initially I turned up my nose at his suggestion; my pride felt wounded. After all, I've been playing piano for more than 15 years. Why bother playing four or five notes of a 'reduction' when I should be playing complicated rhythms and grandiose runs?

Today I am humbled as I realize the parallel between the challenges of learning a new piano piece and the challenges I face in my daily walk with Christ. My pride wants me to believe that I should be able to do six or more things at once in order to be considered spiritually proficient. I let my ego trick me into thinking that I should be doing things beyond my capabilities. I give into self-seeking thoughts that tell me in order to be an accomplished Christian, I should be attending Bible studies, prayer group, Sunday school, volunteering in multiple ministries, writing daily devotionals, as well as spending time in God's Word on my own and with my husband. My way of thinking sometimes convinces me that because I can't do all of those things at once, my efforts are not good enough and therefore I am not good enough.

My identity as a Christian is not contingent on how many spiritual activities I undertake. This is not what God wants or even asks of me. He is most pleased when I can give Him my utmost effort, even if it means I can only do one or two spiritually related things at once. The most beautiful music I can offer Him may only be comprised of a single note melody--perhaps in the form of heartfelt prayer throughout my day. Once I have learned that spirit song to best of my ability, God may teach me a new arrangement of it that builds on the first tune.

When God takes me back to the basics and teaches me a simpler arrangement, it's not because He doesn't think I can handle something more complicated--it's because He has something very distinct to show me or teach me. I'm learning to appreciate the time I spend learning a simpler arrangement of my spiritual life because I know that the basics help build a foundation for bigger, grander things.

In the weeks to come, as I practice the easier version of Handel's music, I will do my best to remember that it's okay if I can't play all the notes at first. It's perfectly okay for me to take things slowly until I get the hang of it. In terms of my Christian walk, being a light to the world doesn't require me to burn the candle at both ends.

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