Monday, February 24, 2014

Faith Lessons and My Guitar

A year and a half ago, I gave into a passion I’ve been ignoring all of my life. I’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar and though I am now well past my childhood (when most people learn to play an instrument) I decided to put away all of the excuses and just do it. Knowing nothing about guitars, I asked a friend who does to help me pick mine out. Then I began taking lessons with a woman who has been playing the guitar for decades. The first couple of weeks of practice were the hardest because it hurt my fingertips to press the strings down to play the notes and it hurt to stretch my fingers so far apart to form some of the chords. To my dismay, I found that I was not a prodigy and I tripped over my own fingers too many times to count. It wasn’t long before callouses formed on my fingertips, playing no longer hurt, my hand formed the chords easily and the noise I was making sounded more like music.

I practiced almost daily for six months and then life began to get in the way. My practice time waned over the next couple of months and then a new endeavor began to take up all my time and I stopped playing all together. My guitar sat there on its stand in my living room gathering dust and I’d think to myself, “I should just pick it up and start playing.” But then I turned on the TV or picked up a book instead. After several months the strings relaxed causing the guitar to become severely out of tune. I missed playing, but still I found myself picking up those old excuses again instead of my guitar. Then last month, I missed it so much that in the middle of the night, I picked up my guitar, tuned it, and began to strum.  It really hurt because the callouses on my fingertips had soften and some of the chords were harder to form again, but it was such a beautiful sound and I just kept on playing. Today, I’m back taking lessons and practicing. It was hard at first to motivate myself again to practice regularly, but it’s getting easier and I don’t have to start over from scratch because I remember a lot of what I learned before.

Much like my passion for the guitar, God’s call and claim on my life has always been inside of me. For too many years, I pushed it aside for any and every excuse I could find until I couldn’t ignore him anymore—I put aside my feeble excuses. I realized that I didn’t know God or even what was and wasn’t true about him so I found an authority—in this case the bible. This friend introduced me to this God who had been tugging at my heart. Soon after, I was convicted to join a fellowship of believers and their experiences and passions helped me to learn and understand more about the Lord, his love and grace, and his desire to reconcile the world through the obedience of his disciples. Those first years weren’t easy (and sometimes even painful) to be obedient to the Lord’s teachings. I won’t pretend that I didn’t make endless mistakes. After all, human nature is sinful and there was only one prodigy when it comes to sinlessness and he is our Lord. However, the more I practiced my faith, the easier it got to be passionately faithful every day.

As is the case with most things, when my faith became so easy I could almost coast through it, my attention began to wane and other things began to take priority. Pretty soon, my relationship with the Lord had been set on a shelf rather than being active in my life. I missed those long intimate prayerful moments that had been so commonplace in my devotions before, but there were so many things to attend to in my life that I kept thinking, “I’ll carve time out tomorrow” and then never did. Any relationship needs constant care and communication and we need at least that much when it comes to our relationship with the God who made us, loves us, saved us, and cares for us now. Just about the same time as I picked up my guitar again, I began seeking those intimate prayerful moments with the Lord again, recommitting myself to our relationship. It’s not easy. It takes a ton of effort to maintain the disciplines that were once easy, but it is getting easier every day.

1 comment:

Audrey said...

I'm glad to know that I'm in wonderful company as I struggle with personal discipline. Thanks for sharing your journey with such eloquence and honesty!