New pianos and Jesus
When I was 12, I started taking piano lessons. Every Thursday for five years, I spent 30 minutes learning and playing music at Brian Faulkner’s house in Russellville, Arkansas.
At home, my mom was glad my keyboard came with a headphone jack. As I improved, I started playing without headphones — but Mozart’s lively “Rondo Alla Turca” just about drove her crazy anyway.
At one of my last piano recitals, maybe junior year of high school, I played “Rondo Alla Turca” (sorry, Mom!), and “Fallin’,” Alicia Keys’ first big hit. I messed up badly on “Fallin’” at one point, but overall I did pretty well. Still, I’m happy to report I no longer play recitals. It’s just not fun to try and play perfectly in front of a crowd.
I played on my own throughout college. There were a bunch of practice rooms in the Ole Miss music building — each room no bigger than a guest bathroom and containing only an upright piano. I’d bring a stack of songbooks, whatever I was feeling that day, and play for hours on end.
At some point after we moved to Mississippi, my parents got me a used Kawai baby grand. I was thrilled. Playing my old keyboard was like typing on a computer keyboard: The keys were light and easier to plunk down on than a real piano, but it wasn’t as satisfying, and it didn’t sound as good.
But the newness wore off after a while. Now that I could play a real piano anytime I was home (within reason), I wasn’t as excited about it. I practiced less and less.
I brought the baby grand with me when I moved to Jackson, and again when my parents helped me buy a house in Madison County. Still, though, I don’t play as often as I should.
Yet every time I do, I remember how relaxing it is. Somehow, reading notes on a page and putting them together in a melody destresses me, even when I don’t play perfectly. When I do play, I don’t want to stop. I’ll show up late for social obligations or go to bed after midnight, all because I’m finally playing piano after a long dry spell.
I still prefer to play alone. If others are present, they may sing along, but they aren’t allowed to talk or ask me questions. It’ll throw me off. I get performance anxiety.
Lately, I’ve tried to be more intentional about giving myself regular creative outlets. When I feel the urge to play piano, or color a picture (yes, I’m still on the coloring book fad), I do it, instead of waiting till my right brain is shriveled and parched.
Sometimes my spiritual life has been like my journey with piano. At first, Sunday church was like my piano lesson, and sometimes I tried to perform well in front of others to show off what I knew. As I started discovering Jesus for myself, I pursued Him more; I stole away to secret rooms to spend time with Him.
More recently, anytime I get a new Bible, I get really excited — only to discover it contains the same books, chapters and verses as always. The same 88 piano keys. I lose a little excitement and set the Word aside. It’s right there. I can open it up anytime. I don’t have to do it right now.
I once saw a video of believers receiving Bibles for the first time in a place where access to scripture is severely restricted. These Christians cried, kissed the cover of the Bible repeatedly, and held it to their chests. They were overjoyed.
They were right to be. Just as a piano’s 88 keys can (and have been) combined into millions of different melodies, the Bible’s 66 books always contain fresh revelation for us. The Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), and it is useful for training us up into our purpose (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Most importantly, it’s one of the easiest and best ways to get to know our Savior.
May we never take the Word of God for granted. It won’t do us any good if we never open it up and enjoy the beauty within.
Must-reads in this issue:
● Our cover story on Chris and Carla Snopek
● Our feature story on a woman helping mothers who’ve lost children to violence
● Dan Hall’s column on resolving marital conflicts