I like to think of myself as a musician. I mean, if taking piano lessons for years as a kid and knowing some music theory makes you a musician, I guess it’s true. Knowing how to play a musical instrument is a special gift – but it takes a while to get there.
I remember starting piano lessons and going through Alfred’s Basic Piano Library, Volume 1. Most of the pieces were simple, childish tunes with a lot of repetition, and it got complicated when you had to play a chord in the bass clef and the melody with your right hand. The theme of the lyrics that accompanied the songs was usually about puddles or going up in a Ferris wheel “up, up in the world so high.”
I soon moved on and played with more poise and confidence, proudly practicing a simplified version of the “William Tell Overture” for a recital. I arranged my own version of “Red River Valley” and loved to play “Joyous Farmer” by Robert Schumann with all my might (and joy).
I was quite a determined little piano student, and I still remember the day when I asked my piano teacher to give me a challenge. I had a very specific challenge I wanted too – music from “Lord of the Rings.” She raised her eyebrows at me, clearly not sure if my skill was quite there yet, but she agreed and at my next piano lesson she brought the coveted piano book with her, complete with epic pictures from the motion picture covering the front. I was so excited, though I knew it was going to be much more challenging than music I had played before.
We started with “Evenstar”, moved on to “In Dreams”, “Concerning Hobbits” the “Rohan” theme, “Gollum’s Song,” and all the rest. At the end of that year, I was so proud of how much I had grown as a piano student. I had picked music that was clearly above my skill level and rose to the occasion to learn it.
That started a new chapter for me as a piano student, because I now had the freedom to choose what music I wanted to play. It seemed each thing I picked was a bit harder than the last, and every time I picked up a new and more difficult composition, it was easy to look at the music and think, “I just can’t.”
I remember looking at a new piece and seeing that it was ten pages long, in a time signature I wasn’t used to, or seeing so many sharps, flats and naturals that my head would start spinning and I would feel overwhelmed. Then I would sit down and play the first measure of music.
Music doesn’t seem so complicated when you look at it one measure at a time. When I was working on a particularly challenging piano piece, I would break it down in sections, work on it little by little, practice the treble clef and later add in the bass, and soon, I would be able to play it all.
It is such a thrilling feeling to take a piece of music that seemed impossible a first and perform it with grace! One measure at a time will soon bring you to the end of the composition.
Sometimes I think we view life like a difficult piano piece. We see something ahead of us and think “I could never get through that.”
This past year has been like that for me. There have been hardships that hovered in the future ahead of me and I thought “I don’t think I can do that.”
The world buzzes with news and we react to these events with uncertainty, and we ask God, “Please don’t make me go through that.”
The truth is we serve a God who calls us to do hard things. Sometimes the things God calls us to look impossible, rather like a difficult piano piece in a key that we have never played in before. But He calls us to walk through it in the same way: one measure at a time.
In Matthew 6:34 he tells us,
“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”Matthew 6:34
I think we could all agree with that last phrase. Each day has its own sufficient troubles. Yes, this life is hard but we don’t have to worry about tomorrow and Jesus tenderly walks through it all with us. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” as the Lord reminded Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
I started this year with the prayer that the Lord would grow me “deeper” in Him. It was like me wanting to play a complicated piano piece. I heard the finished product and it was beautiful ,and I thought, “I want to play that.” So, I got the music and it is hard, but measure by measure, with a lot of practice and work put into it, the beautiful song emerges from my own fingertips.
The Lord has called us to some hard things but, day by day, trial by trial, we walk through them until we can look back at all the pain, all the heartache, all those anxious days that He brought us through, and all we will see is a breath-taking song.
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