Sitting at the Holland Performing Arts Center, I become lost in the swells of the cello, imagining myself playing the song effortlessly, swaying to the music. The cellist and the cello move as one as beauty fills the auditorium. I imagine myself being one who could play so beautifully and watching it appear so effortless, I almost believe I can.
But even in my imagination, I know if you put me and that same cello in that same auditorium, nothing would come out except halting sounds and even that would take great effort. If I wanted to, I could blame the instrument or even blame the auditorium for not responding correctly, but in reality the problem with the music would be with the player. I would be the problem. I have not been trained to be one who can play so beautifully. The capability is there to play at least something beautiful, but it would take discipline and time on my part to learn. I can even own the instrument and dress the part, but that doesn’t mean I will ever learn how to play. The skilled player is formed in the hidden place with the teacher.
This scenario reminds me of our lives so many times. Our soul is the player and our life is the instrument -the instrument our soul plays. Out of our life comes beauty, but also ugliness. When we see anger, envy, unforgivness and other sins, oftentimes we chastise the instrument. We try to tune the instrument, put up external restraints, order our lives with large boundaries in a valiant effort to act better or at least try to appear better than we are.
Our lives look a little better, but when something unexpected or hard happens in life, the instrument immediately goes out of tune and we are left wondering why our first response is anxiety, anger, fear or unforgiveness. We want the instrument to sound better but we just cannot seem to make it play something beautiful, even though we know it can. Often we just keep trying harder.
We hear about abundant life, being Christlike, joy, and all of the promises. We know there is beauty, but the instrument will not play or if it plays for a minute, it is halting and full of effort. Some of us keep trying but begin to believe the music is for the next life. Others of us just give up, believing there is not actually music to be had. But what if this music is for our lives now?
What if we began to turn our attention to the soul? What if we paid more attention to the place deep within us that actually plays our life and dictates our responses and stopped trying to fix the instrument? There is a place in us where goodness and beauty can be cultivated and grow, infiltrating even the most difficult places we find ourselves in. What if we began to understand when our lives are playing wrong notes, the problem isn’t the instrument but the player?
The needs of the soul are often buried deep in our busy lives and we can even feel guilty in our results driven world taking time to tend to it. A sick soul wreaks havoc in our lives, but a healthy soul is the place from where life with God flows, truly changing us and things around us. It is there where we become different kinds of people, but we have to pay attention.
Proverbs 4:23 says,
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
We have to cultivate our hearts and learn to stop long enough to hear the deeper and driving place in our lives, the player of our beautiful lives. When wrong notes are played, we can explore with Jesus what it is in us that He wants to transform. There are so many ways to do that. We may find ourselves momentarily shaken, but we can center our soul in Him. He will meet us in the middle and His disposition toward us is kind. He is our loving teacher and not a harsh taskmaster.
When we find a wrong note is playing, we have a loving Father who wants to find us in the stillness and speak to that place, bring healing to a wound, impart a truer way of thinking and make us ones who actually are loving. There is a way to a deeper life and one that plays beautiful symphonies even while here on earth. The Holy Spirit is our helper. We just have to turn our attention to Him and He will transform our soul.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45 NIV
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV