My whole life I have been around music. My momma was our church pianist so we’d spend hours at church and at home listening to her practice. I was fascinated with music. I’d open the back of the piano to watch the hammer hit as I punched a key. I’d press all the pedals one by one and watch how the hammers adjusted with each pedal to carry out a different task.
At age 8, I began playing what’s commonly known as a Flutophone–our school required it. The next year, I moved into band where I started playing clarinet. Before I even started band, I had taught myself some of the major scales and knew quite a few songs on my clarinet. I was very proud! I played clarinet until I was 15. I took up teaching myself how to play oboe when I was 12 and played until I graduated from high school. And I was good at both. I rarely practiced at home; I didn’t need to honestly. I picked up on new stuff very quickly. I could play any scale you threw out there at me; give me a piece of music with a crazy time signature, no problem. Site reading-that’s a breeze!
That’s not the case today. Things like scales that came naturally to me I no longer remember. Simple stuff like counting measures and sight reading music no longer come easily to me. I have to really think about music now, something I’ve never done before. When I heard other great musicians, it’ was a challenge to me to step my game up, push myself to be better. I didn’t settle for second best. But somewhere in there, that mentality changed. I lost my competitive drive. Today, I’m ok with not being the best, knowing there is someone that can really show me up on some stuff and that they are probably a lot younger than me! Lazy? Maybe. Complacent? Definitely. But why?! What happened?
Passion. Somewhere in the course of time music really lost its meaning to me. I can pinpoint it back to high school. Katrina. When I stopped playing my sophomore year and then we moved, music lost its meaning. It hurt. When I played at my new school, it wasn’t the same. The people weren’t the same. The competition wasn’t the same. The passion wasn’t the same. My passion wasn’t the same. Yes, I still loved music, but there wasn’t a drive, there wasn’t this need in me to play. I could be ok without playing music. I could get by fine without it and if I wasn’t the best, it was ok.
But isn’t that how it is with our walk with God sometimes? We start off so passionate, so awed with God. We teach ourselves a lot about who He is and what He’s done. We involve ourselves with our reaches at our church to the extent where living God becomes second nature. It’s what we do and we don’t have to think about it. But something changes in our life, usually in an instant that we can pinpoint and then it’s a slow process of pulling away. Before we know it, our passion for God is not the same as it once was. We’re complacent, no longer running with perseverance, but strolling along. This race Hebrews tells us we are running is now a casual walk through life. Our competitive drive is gone. We no longer have the energy to fight for what God has called us to. We take attacks from the enemy and it slows us down more, but we never speed back up. Eventually we are so worn down that we stop moving all together and just sit down. Take a break. We can handle this on our own. When WE are ready, we’ll go again. There are those who come running back to God, often more passionate this time than before. But the truth is that a lot who start off so zealous for God and then fade away rarely return.
Through music, I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to go back to the basics. You have to start off with the simple counting of measures and the beats in them. You have to relearn scales to where they are second nature again. Although practice wasn’t a necessity before, it’s a necessity now. You have to go back to that love you first had for God, that awe you first felt when you learned what He had done for you on a cross. You have to practice learning His word and reciting it. The more you practice, the faster you’ll be back in the race. No good runner decides the day of a 26 mile marathon that he is just going to run it without any training leading up to it. Practice. Train. Work. Sweat. It will be tough, it will be frustrating; you’ll want to quit, but to be the best you have to persevere and press on. It’s worth it in the end.