False Notes

Image by Joanjo Puertos Muñoz from Pixabay

 Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me.” — Isaiah 6:8 NIV

Nervously I fingered my clarinet. It wasn’t every practice the high school band director stood right behind me. When the song ended, his booming voice filled the gym.

“Maddock!” he yelled. “How do you expect to play the song when you aren’t hitting the right notes?”

I’d been found out. 

After my father’s job layoff a few years earlier, my parents had to make every dollar stretch. I knew better than to ask for fun money. But I didn’t want to be left out, so when I got to high school, I came up with a plan that would enable me to attend the football games.

I knew the band director was seeking more members. I also knew the band got in the games free. So the summer before I started high school, I borrowed a clarinet from my sister’s boyfriend and began to teach myself how to play. 

Accepted into the band—I didn’t have to try out; he was that desperate for more members—I struggled to keep up with the more accomplished players. When I came to a note I didn’t know how to play—and there were plenty of those—or when the tempo of the song was too fast for me, I simply pretended to hit the notes.

But now my deception was discovered. It was truth time. I took a deep breath and answered, “I don’t know where they are, sir.”

The entire band, director included, erupted in laughter. By the time I was a senior, I’d moved up from the third to the first section. 

If I’d waited until I felt comfortable and accomplished—until I thought I was “good enough”—I would have missed out on what became the most memorable and fun experiences of my high school years. 

The same is true in life. While it’s good to be prepared, sometimes we just need to take the plunge, learning as we go. Our performance doesn’t have to be flawless before we can make a meaningful contribution to the world in which we live. We’re going to hit false notes, but, like the band director who didn’t give up on me, God doesn’t give up on us. Instead He lovingly gives us the song of our lives, note by note.

 When I feel intimidated and unsure of myself, remind me, Lord, You don’t need perfect vessels, only willing ones. Amen.

 Read and reflect on Isaiah 6:1–8.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

What Room Are You In?

“My Father’s house has many rooms.” – John 14:2a NIV

I was paging through my prayer journal when I came across an email I sent to my writing buddies following a time of discouragement.

“For a while I thought everything seemed to be drying up,” I’d written. “I was wrong. God told me this is but a season, to savor the quietness, the solitude, the unhurried pace of life because it will not always be so. Life will get hectic (another season), and I will long for this quiet time of peace. I am to fortify my spirit by spending time with Him, in His Word, in prayer, in feeding my heart, mind, and soul.

“I am not in the wilderness. I am not in the recovery room. I am not in the waiting room. I’m in the preparation room.”

The email was dated February 20, 2008, 15 years ago.

Seasons of life are more than the spring, summer, fall, and winter years. They are also times we live through – or rooms, if you will. We’re all in one room or another, aren’t we?

The waiting room. Here is where our patience is tested and grown. We don’t know how long we’ll be here, waiting to be examined and given a diagnosis. Our wondering leads to fear, anxiety, worry. Like David, we cry out, “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)

What can we do while we’re waiting?

Trust. God’s got this. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Pray. Not for patience (Lord forbid!) but for strength for the wait.

I love what Melissa Sylvis, the speaker for the 2017 Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference, posted on Facebook: “When He opens a door, then the place is prepared for you and you have been prepared for that place! You can walk into it hand-in-hand with God, and then you will realize that it was worth the wait!”

The preparation room. This is where you get prepped for what’s coming up. It’s a busy room for all but you. You lie (or sit) there, feeling helpless, anxious, and fearful. What’s the best thing you can do?

Submit. To the experts’ ministrations. They know what they’re doing. So does God, who sends people and circumstances your way to prepare you for what He knows is up ahead. Trust comes into play here, too.

The operating room. This is where the fixes take place. Note you’re not the surgeon. You’re not the anesthesiologist. You’re not on the medical team. You’re on the operating table. Your life is in the hands of the Master Surgeon.

In a real operating room, you’re usually asleep, unaware of what’s happening. But for our analogy, you’re aware of what’s happening, but you don’t know why. You don’t see the end result. You have to trust your life in the Healer’s hands, believing that He knows what’s best for you. That all this is according to His plan and purpose for you, to mold you into His vision for you.

The recovery room. Here is where you recover under the watchful eyes and skilled care of a trained medical staff. Often you’re taken to therapy, where muscles are stretched and strengthened, where sometimes you have to re-learn things or learn new ways to cope.

“There are times I cry in anxiety and frustration, in fear and discouragement,” I wrote in my email. “But I live expectantly. I am to enjoy this time, savor it, and not rush to get through it.”

Note that every room has a requirement if you’re to get through it successfully: Trust. In God, His Word, His promises, His steadfast love. Trust in His goodness, mercy, and grace.

What room are you in?

Lord, I trust You. I really do! Help me when my faith falters. Remind me to rest on Your unchanging grace and let You do what You do best. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 91

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.