Thursday, July 5, 2012

In the Hands of a Maestro

My daughter had her first piano recital recently. Held in the fellowship room of a very old church, it was simple and sweet. The piano she played was unremarkable. A plain, brown upright that had obviously seen better days, it was exactly like hundreds of pianos in hundreds of church basements around the country. One by one Miss Sarah's students took their place at the bench. The strains of Mary Had a Little Lamb and Ode to Joy rang out. Proud parents beamed.
Then it was Miss Sarah's turn. She stretched her arms a second, placed her fingers on the keys and began to play. Under her expert touch, something incredible happened. As her hands flew up and down the keyboard, the piano became something else. Suddenly, the sounds coming from this non-descript instrument became heavenly. I've never heard a baby grand in a concert hall, but I imagine that's what it sounded like. It was breathtaking. Under the hands of a master, the instrument was transformed.
We are all instruments.
Stuck in the mundane of our daily lives, we often fail to see our own potential -- our own worth.
But God doesn't.
If we allow Him to transform us, we are priceless works of art.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
The word workmanship is better translated masterpiece. You are a masterpiece! Created not just to exist, but to flourish under the mighty hand of the Master Himself!
Under His leading, you don't simply collect dust in the corner of a church basement; you ring out with praises so beautiful even the angels stand in awe.
Today let Him touch your life. Let Him work through you and in you to do the "good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do." Under His hand, let Him transform the mundane into a symphony of praise – a chorus of the miraculous.
You might be simple and sweet. You might think you're doing the best you can under the push and pull of the cares of the world. You might even earnestly plunk out a tune or two as you go along your way. But that's not God's best for you. He has big plans.
So, what's holding you back? Are you really satisfied with Mary Had a Little Lamb? Or would you rather echo with the heart-stopping power of your own Hallelujah chorus?
Remember, it's not the instrument it's the artist!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bricks or Flowers?

A long time ago I started playing a game with my children as we went about our days. In an effort to teach to be kind with their words, I would ask "was that a brick or a flower?" The idea is probably self-explanatory – but the gist of it goes like this: communication matters. Insults are like bricks – they hurt and sometimes cause permanent injury when used carelessly. On the other hand, compliments are like flowers – and words of affirmation are like a healing balm for the soul.
As is often the case with these types of lessons, the teacher learned the most! The game made me more aware of my own words. I was suddenly cognizant of my communication – verbal and non-verbal. Was I sighing? Grumbling? Was I building up or tearing down?
It matters.
The bible has much to say about our speech.
Proverbs 25:11 says "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver," and Proverbs 15:1 says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
The New Testament has more advice.
James 3:5 says "The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."
And Paul admonishes us to use our words wisely. In his letter to the church at Colossi he says, "Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."
Words have power!
I had forgotten that little game, but I think it's time to bring it back. Too much time spent on unimportant pursuits has dulled my perception as of late, and I've been careless and slack with my speech.
Before opening my mouth today I'll stop a second and ask myself, "Is this a brick or a flower?" If it's a brick, I'll reconsider my delivery. If it's a flower – well, one can never have too many of those!