Last Sunday, Pastor Jon challenged us to unplug from our distractions and plug into God’s Word.
So, how is it going?
If you’re like me, sometimes reading the Word is life-changing. Beauty drips from every verse, fills my heart, and leaves my soul in peace.
And then there are the days when it’s just…dry.
Sometimes reading the Word of God is a time when I remember all that we say that He is and discover all that I am who He says I am.
But what about the times, the days, the seasons, the years, when life is hard and difficult and the last thing I want to do is open a book that reads like a text book instead of the Living Word? What happens when God’s Word falls on the dry ground of my heart?
We read any way.
As I write this, tears prick my eyes. My heart is so tender, bruised, torn, bleeding. All the words that describe: wounded.
How am I supposed to read the Word of God when I feel nothing but pain?
Scales and Arpeggios
When I was six, I started piano lessons. At first, the brief ten-minute practices were a breeze, a small chore that was in the way of my having fun. But as I grew older and graduated from simple lessons into full music pieces, the practices demanded more skill and time.
As a child, this could be akin to the worst kind of torment – especially on the summer days when the last thing you wanted to do was practice your Hanon exercises. Instead of running around the backyard or jumping through sprinklers, I had to count along with the metronome while I practiced scales. The routine was this, starting in the Key of C.
- Play scale, one octave, quarter notes. Count out loud.
- Play scale, two octaves, eighth notes. Count out loud.
- Play scale, three octaves, triplets. Count out loud.
- Play scale, four octaves, sixteenth notes. Count out loud.
- Chords I, IV, V, I
- Repeat in the Key of G, and so on…
To my piano teacher, I complained remember complained about this atrocity to full childhood living.
“Why do I have to practice scales? When do I get to play the fun stuff?”
Gently, she sat behind the piano and played a beautiful Chopin etude. Fingers sweeping up and down the keyboard, teasing out a melody that lifted my heart up into beauty.
“This is an Etude,” she said. “These are meant to be for scale practice, but they are also an exercise in beauty.”
“But I’m playing scales to a metronome.”
“Trust me. They will help you in the end. To get from here to there, you need these tools. When you have to learn a difficult part of the music, this practice is what takes you from good to great. This practice can make what you do beautiful.”
Making Practice Beautiful
As it turned out, she was right. Just last week, I was playing through a Beethoven piece and my fingers wouldn’t move, plodding clumsily up and down the board. I went back to the scale routine I had learned from my classical piano teacher. Through that simple routine, a certain magic happened. My fingers seemed to remember themselves and soon flew across the keyboard.
I played the Beethoven, my heart soaring.
I think about this lesson from time to time, especially when I’m going through a difficult season. Reading the Word of God can be like a scale routine, but building this practice will help me in the times when life is tough.
The question I am wrestling with is this: how do I get from practice to living that full life that Jesus says he brings?
Be a Doer of the Word
James 1:22-25 says: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
If we are plugging into the Source (God’s Word), it suggests that we have an output. Through that Source, we can truly shine.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Be a doer of the Word.
Reading the Word is like practicing scales and arpeggios, the practice of doing what He says in his Word is the Etude – how we bring practice into beauty.
And what does the Word say I should do?
Forgive. And when asked, forgive again.
In all things, give thanks to God.
Walk with God.
Put on the full armor of God.
Be about God’s work – share about His Son, whom we believe.
Seek justice for the poor, widowed, orphaned, oppressed.Love mercy.
Love and obey his commands.
Love God with all my heart, mind, and body.Love my brothers and sisters.
Love my neighbor as myself.
And so on.
Today, I practiced my scales–I read God’s Word. I felt my heart stirring, as if it was starting to remember how to beat again.
I practiced being a doer of the Word that I read, it was a small act, but I decided to reach out and give and show love.
And my heart soared.
May your practice of plugging into God’s Word and being doers of his Word make your life full.