Lessons from a Piano Lesson
It’s amazing to me how God choses to speak to me and often get my attention. I love when He speaks through His word, nature, and friends; but, this particular day, He spoke loudly through the words that flew out of my mouth while I was teaching a piano lesson. It was an “Aha!” moment but these words that I have heard time and time again took personal shape. It felt differently coming out of my own mouth, speaking aloud, and with full confidence.
For those of you reading this and know a little bit about playing music, you will understand this next sentence fully! Jason plays mechanically! For non-musicians, Jason hasn’t gripped the idea of “making beautiful” music and playing with heartfelt expression. Right now, everything is played technically and in “working order!” The element necessary for exhibiting beautiful music is the knowledge and experiential understanding of aesthetic musical phrasing.
Within each musical phrase or thought lies a climax and release. Jason has not grasped this technique, yet! But I feel confident that this little guy will become an awesome musician as he learns to express his love for music through playing the piano! He is still in training and with training comes strenuous work, and often tears of frustration.
This particular lesson was a little unusual for Jason. His timing was really off! We worked on the rhythm of the phrases time and time again. “Count, Jason!” I would tell him. “I am counting!” he would reply. “Count it aloud, you’ll get it,” I said. I could see his demeanor dimming. “You’ve got this, clap and count it aloud…speak it,” I persisted. He kept coming back with, “It’s hard!” We had a little battle of the will. Because it seemed hard for him, he refused to count aloud and do what I had asked of him. He has played much more difficult music in the past! I knew he could tackle it and overcome. He just had a mental block! Then I said something to him that I never do, nor ever have…and with a pretty firm voice looking him straight in the eye, I said, ”Jason, we are not leaving this until you count aloud! Now speak it!” You see, I was taking him back to the basics! To fully get a grip of learning rhythm, the best practices are to speak it, clap it (make it physical), write it, and then internalize it while playing (demonstrate understanding!) He finally surrendered his will and counted aloud while he was playing and got the passage correct! His smile reappeared. That may seem a little harsh to some of you, but life isn’t always easy! He had to do the hard thing to gain a deeper understanding of what will come next. He has now made a memory of how to overcome when he runs into difficulty in the future. He knew my love for him wasn’t diminished and that I was doing what was best! After all, I am the teacher!
It’s in these next few statements that flew out of my mouth, which caused me deep reflection. “Yay Jason, you did it! Don’t you know that I’m not going to give you something that is too difficult for you to handle? I’ll never do that! Sometimes pieces will be easy and sometimes they will be more difficult. I have taught you well from the beginning and have given you tools to accomplish great pieces! You have a strong foundation! Some works will require longer periods of time to learn and some works you will fly through. Difficult pieces will require you to take physical action (clap, speak, write) and others will be a breeze. Just remember to go back to the basics and speak it aloud! I’ll never give you more than you can handle!” Tears began to flood my eyes as his small body sat there on the hard black piano bench with a “seemingly hard” manuscript of music before him. I saw myself sitting in his place and heard the echo of the voice of God. With God ALL things are possible! He will never give me more than I can bear. His grace is sufficient.
13 No temptation (test) has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted (tested) beyond your ability,
but with the temptation (test) he will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
In this teachable moment, I told Jason that God does the same thing in our lives and as he grows older he will have a better understanding. God gives us what we can handle with His strength. Nothing more!
“If I survive any test or accomplish any work when I am tested, it is decisively grace, not decisively me.” ~John Pipe
Like Jason, always practicing to do his best, he was faced with a difficult challenge. He didn’t think he could rise above this demanding and arduous assignment. It was when he stopped, took a breath, went back to the basics, and spoke boldly with words of power (words to keep him on track) that he was able to overcome! Did he need some help and encouragement? Absolutely! And I was sitting right by his side cheering him on!
We all face difficult situations. Some seem harder than others. As I look around at my circle of friends, family, and myself, it appears that the “testing of faith” is apparent. It has been a long season of tremendous loss and transition for many of us. (I will not elaborate here, but I bet you sense it too in your own life!)
What do we do when those moments arise? Sometimes action needs to be taken other than whining to God for help and complaining, “this is too hard!” Put your faith into action! Is there something that God is asking of you?
“Faith must be followed with actions that are consistent with what is believed. Faith is the noun form and believe is the verb form of the same Greek word. Faith is the ability to believe, but that ability must be used and acted upon for faith to come alive and work. Believing is the action side of faith – believing is ‘acting in faith.’ Just having faith is not enough. Having the ability to believe is not enough. One must act on that ability by acting consistent with what is believed. James tells us that faith without corresponding actions is lifeless and dead.” ~ Rex Rouis
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by (corresponding) action, is dead (dormant). James 2:17 NIV
God meets us at our time of need. When we surrender our will to His will, then we are in the place of greatest peace.
There are many examples in the Scriptures where corresponding actions were needed to make peoples faith come alive and be productive: Go, wash John 9:7, come to me, stretch forth your hand Matthew 12:13, take up your bed Luke 5:24.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the (spoken) word of Christ. Romans 10:17
It is a hearing in faith that bridges the great gulf. A.W. Tozer
There is something about speaking aloud and adding a physical action! I made Jason clap and count aloud so that he could hear himself and correct his problem area. He heard the words, and put into practice what he learned from the very beginning. He began to stand on his solid foundation of instruction. Shouldn’t we do the same in our spiritual life? Speak God’s word aloud. Hear your own voice declaring the Word of the Lord. Do you believe what you speak? Put it into action!
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
You demonstrate faith when you speak according to God's Word and worship Him with audible praise! There is power in the spoken word!
When you face distressing situations, have faith in God and a lively active faith would put as great a power into your prayers as if speaking to those mountains and moving them! Use God’s powerful word and name according to His will and let faith in God strengthen you in your inner man.
… Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says [Mark 11:23, Matthew 21:21, Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6].
Often we don’t need to have our mountains removed, for that is the very thing that God uses to draw you closer to Himself. What we need is a believing heart and an attitude to trust that it is God who gives us just what we can handle with his strength. It is with this kind of faith that we could cast anything into the sea!
And this is the confidence that we have toward him,
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14
Proverbs 4:20-22 – My Child (put your name in here) attend to my words;
incline thine ear unto my sayings.
Let them not depart from thine eyes;
keep them in the midst of thine heart.
For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
Worship God in all things! His words are life and health to our flesh. Praise Him for there is power in praise. On many accounts, I have personally seen God do miracles when praise was spoken aloud and lifted up to Him in the most difficult of situations. This action has caused my faith to become active and no longer dormant.
Worship is a declaration of our weakness and God’s strength. I challenge you in your next point of need to make that hard choice to be a worshiper and let the breakthrough God fight your battle for you.
When we worship, the invisible God is at work doing invisible and powerful things. We get realigned, refreshed and refueled; we find unspeakable joy and indescribable peace. We discover the breakthrough strength of God, which enables us to walk in the truth, live in His presence and see Him fight our battles for us. It is how we can put the beauty of the Gospel on display, receive His many blessings and at the same time be a blessing to the world.”
~Tommy Walker (https://billygraham.org/story/understanding-the-breakthrough-power-of-worship/)
I love the Old Testament account (2 Chronicles 20:1-30) of Judah’s invasion and how King Jehoshaphat prayed aloud before Judah and Jerusalem and the new court. Jahaziel heard from the Lord with much authority, encouragement and instructions proclaiming them to “Listen! … ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 17 You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.”
They did just that! Early the next morning, on the battlefield, there were songs of praise and worship, sung ALOUD, giving thanks to the Lord, for His loving-kindness is everlasting. At the power of their audible words of praise, the battle was defeated.
The story doesn’t stop there. I think there is much more to learn in the following events. In that time, “people came to take their spoil,” from the defeated after the battle was won. Meaning, they found much among the conquered, including goods, garments and valuable things, which they took for themselves. It was more than they could carry. In fact, it took them three days to pack away what they had gained. After they returned from battle, they blessed the Lord.
“Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies.” Vs. 27
Did you catch that is was the Lord who had made them to rejoice and filled their heart with joy?!
They were charged to “station yourself, stand, see the salvation, fear not, and go!" All actions of faith! And he gave them more than they could carry away for 3 days! Abundant provisions and valuable things! Isn’t that just like God to give us more than we could ask or dream possible?!
It was only then that God gave them rest on all sides and peace in the kingdom!
God seems requires audible worship and praise. Even in Salvation, He requires confession with the mouth. There is power in speaking aloud.
Speaking aloud is a strategy for remembering.
Speaking aloud helps to shape ideas and clarify thoughts.
Speaking aloud provides perspective.
Speaking aloud often declares what you believe.
Speaking aloud helps put faith into action.
Speaking aloud is something that God commands throughout scripture.
As Jason left my house that day, he and I learned more than what we both expected. Returning to the basics will bring great reward and prepare you for difficult passages in the future. With heartfelt expression, the reflection of God's strength will be revealed in our lives. As our life is phrased with many climaxes and releases, with faith we learn to make a beautiful life that brings glory to God. He is the Master Teacher and will never give you more than you can handle!
Learning lessons everyday,
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