I’m what’s known as a frustrated musician. I can play a couple of instruments well enough to amuse myself, but not well enough to be of any real use to someone who’s looking for true talent.
One of the instruments I’ve fiddled with for years is an acoustic guitar. I know enough to play a few chords and sing a few tunes. Unfortunately, I’ve never learned to play a B-chord. C, D, and A came quickly, but B is a bear. I soon learned, however, that I could put a capo on the neck of my six-stringed friend and fake an easy B.
I Get By
Playing for as long as I have, I should have mastered that chord years ago. I haven’t, however, because I’ve been able to get away with less. That’s a lousy excuse, but it’s all I’ve got. Worse than that, it’ probably indicative of a lot of things in life. If we can get by while doing less, that’s just fine by us.
In some arenas of life, that’s okay. For example, I don’t need to learn a great deal about auto-mechanics, because I’m surrounded by good ones. If they’ve learned the B-chord of engines (so to speak), I can trust them with my street machine—far more than I can trust myself.
There are other capacities, however, which we can’t be so nonchalant about perfecting. This would include things like parenting for example. If we’re not willing to learn the B-chord of child rearing, we’ll mess up our kids. It’s one thing to be a frustrated musician. Being an unsatisfactory parent is a whole other ballgame. The consequences are far greater.
Play a Symphony
These principles apply to our spiritual lives as well. When it comes to our spirituality, we can’t rely on someone else to play the B-chord for us. We’ve got to do that for ourselves. There’s no capo to apply to our souls. We actually have to put in the time to pray, study Scripture, and apply God’s lessons to our lives. Our spirituality entails far more than a simple three-chord progression. By the end of our lives, we should be playing veritable symphonies.
There have been several times in my existence when I’ve decided that it was time to learn that B-chord on my guitar. Deciding was not doing, however, and I’m still a B-less strummer. Good intentions are no substitute for self-discipline.
It’s no different when it comes to our spirituality. We can desire to grow spiritually, but those desires have to be acted upon. There’s an old saying that, I’m sure, most of you have heard. It goes like this: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
I was recently being fitted for a suit and, in the process, told the tailor I was intending to lose a little weight. His response was a chuckle as he said, “Yes, Dave. I’ve been intending to lose a little weight for the past fifty years.” He needs to learn to play a B-chord, too.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]