The Concertos Will Come

 

Nature Boy in the spring, 2013

Nature Boy in 2013

Imagine a nine-year-old boy playing the violin.  He has an excellent ear and almost never plays a wrong note.  He can play any tune he hears.  But the sound coming out of his violin doesn’t match the music in his head.  It is scratchy and weak. Despite regular practice, he does not seem to improve. It is frustrating to listen to him, knowing the possibility of his talent.

That was our son a year ago.  We had taken him to violin lessons, but his teacher had not worked enough on good playing habits, instead forging ahead with more and more difficult music, because of his excellent ‘ear’ and ability to read music.  At first we were pleased with his progress, but as the music got harder his bad playing habits began to hamper him, until his playing was no longer a pleasure for the listeners.  He had poor posture, and his hand was crooked as he held the violin.  His bowing was weak. Something had to be done.

An email came into my inbox from the homeschooling network to which we belong, someone recommending their daughter’s Suzuki violin teacher.  The cost would be higher than what we were already paying, and it was further away.  But I had been praying for guidance.  We decided to leave the old teacher and try the new.

She took him right back to the beginning, back to ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.  I tried not to care, thinking, “It won’t be long before she’ll move him on to the pieces he was playing before.”  She worked on his bowhold first, then his hand position.  Week after week, she has been working on his playing habits – making sure the bow goes in the right place to get the best sound, standing up straight, hand in the right position, thumb pointing up at the ceiling not lying down.  Every day when he practises at home I watch him to make sure that he is following her instructions.

Almost a year later, he is still not playing the more difficult pieces he was before, but the sound that comes out of his instrument is a hundred times better.  His playing habits are not perfect, but vastly improved.  I have learned patience, waiting for the fruit of our labours, knowing that this time nurturing his musical gift will be worth it in the end.  The concertos will come, but the foundation must be properly laid.

As I was watching him at his violin lesson recently, I started thinking about what God has been doing in my life, about the bad habits that held me back from His purposes for me:  self-pity, pride, criticism of others, self-condemnation, anger, impatience.  Like me watching my son practising his violin, the Holy Spirit reminds me when my thoughts and behaviour go off the rails.  He is patient and never condemns, but I am frustrated at times because I want to be so much further on than I am.  However as we continue together, the new behaviours will become the norm, and the old will fall to the side.  Already, some bad habits have died, and others are breathing their last gasp.

“Discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Therefore lift your dropping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”

Hebrews 12:11-13

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7 thoughts on “The Concertos Will Come

  1. Powerful post Jo.
    Oh the refining process … If only I could be finished by now lol. But I am a continuing work in progress … And we can’t underestimate what He is doing that we cannot see … The foundational changes, the hard yards, the old is dying and sometimes that takes time … Oh but the fruit is worthwhile.
    Lord please continue to refine us, in Your timing, not ours. Make the changes permanent, transformational and life changing for the glory of Your kingdom here on earth. Thank you Jesus!

    • Amen! These changes are permanent, I believe. They become second nature, even though at first they feel strange and new. I have a sense that this is all preparation for something wonderful that God is going to do. He just has to make us fit for the purpose…

  2. Oh, this is such an edifying post. Don’t we just want to rush ahead and have it all done and perfect? But you’re right, just like your son, we must practice, practice, practice the right habits. Patience, gentleness, and peacemaking don’t “just come naturally.” As any athlete or musician knows, it takes years to master a skill. Why do we think practicing character so that we can be used by God would take less focus and commitment?

    • Yes, it’s a really helpful way to look at things – realising that this a process which will take time. But somehow not making it a work of the flesh – it’s in the power of the Holy Spirit as we cooperate with Him.

  3. I love the peace and patience in this post. Our Lord is much more patient with us than we are with ourselves, for sure. As a young mom I really struggled with my imperfections because of the fallout on my children. The pressure cooker built inside of me and I failed often when I focused on my failures or my efforts to do better. When I finally forgave myself and learned to simply focus on Jesus, he began to change me from the inside out and a lot of stuff when away when there was no pressure cooker working up to boiling from my own self-criticism . . .

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you.

      • And even when we believe things in our mind and heart it takes a while to live them out because our autonomic response is the old response, the way we used to respond before we found the Truth. *sigh* So . . . I cling to the promise that HE completes the good work HE began in me.

        But yes. It is hard to be patient with self especially.

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