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.

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