We have an organ at church. It went years and years without being used by a skilled organist.
When we hired a new accompanist several years ago I had no idea that she would grow into such a strong organist. At the time of her hiring we used the piano almost exclusively. One day she said she'd like to work on a few organ pieces.
Her few pieces have become many pieces, and her skill continues to grow in a beautiful way. In fact - she is majoring in organ as she makes her way through college!
Almost every Sunday someone will stop one of us to comment on their pleasure at hearing the organ played so well.
Can you tell that we love our accompanist? She's wonderful!!!
Instruments are meant to be played. As our young organist has begun to play more often, the instrument has rebelled against use - F# keys have gone haywire, pedals have begun to rebound awkwardly, and stops have gotten stuck.
If you purchase an instrument and hang it on a wall or put it in a glass case and never bother with playing it or tuning it, a few things will happen.
1.) It will eventually go out of tune.
2.) Things that are meant to move will become unused to movement, and will fall apart - hammers, strings, keys, joints, etc. We saw this happen to a set of handbells that hadn't been played in many years. The springs that cause the clappers to strike the bell correctly cracked into pieces after only a few months of renewed use. The sounding board in a piano can actually crack and become irreparable if it goes without tuning for too long and then receives a tuning that is too dramatic. Sudden change.
3.) We will forget how to practice. Playing something regularly suggests practice, doesn't it?
Oh, but we need a good tuning and some good practice.
This is the inside of our electric organ at church. We're getting ready for our first organ tuning in . . . . I actually don't know how long!
The inside of this instrument has always been a mystery to me. When I was a kid we got to look inside the pipe closet for the pipe organ at church, but an electric organ? This is foreign territory.
I feel the same way about the inside of my own soul. Foreign territory. Like I've never been allowed to open that door all the way. Who can possibly make sense of everything that goes on in there?
You already know the answer, don't you? The "church" answer. The "Sunday school" answer. But I want to suggest that the answer isn't an instant cure. It's not a one time fix. And yes - I know that we have some doctrine floating around out there that says it's a one time thing . . . you accept something and never have to call for a tuning visit.
Friends . . . if I never called the Master Artist back into my heart for a tuning, I would not be writing to you. I would not be writing music. I would not be.
Oh yeah - that's me climbing up where the organ speakers are hidden.
We need them to make sound for us, but we hide them so that they can't be seen. Functional but not beautiful. And then when they break, we have to go hunting for them again.
When did we decide that it wasn't alright to let the process show?
When did we choose the appearance of perfection over the reality of process?
Every time the seasons change for the rest of my life I will have to call the Master back in to work on me. It will happen every time the atmosphere fills with humidity. Every time the temperature plummets. Every time it comes back up again.
If I go too long without a good tuning, something will break. Don't hear me wrong - I'm not saying that getting broken is something we can avoid as people. God will still be willing to come and work through it with me.
But what if I could stay more in tune with God so that my tunings aren't so painful?
I think about James 4:8.
"Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded."
If you read all of James 4, you will find some tough stuff. It references this "sin" idea over and over . . . this idea of other things coming between ourselves and God. I am NOT talking about fire and stone and ashes. I am NOT talking about any of us fearing our way into something "right." I am talking about the grace of God teaching us what is human and healthy.
And so then I think about the season changes in life. Every season change brings me into contact with a new set of problems and wants. Blessings, too.
When I think of all this, I want just one thing: To be close enough to the Tuner that I can be tuned when I need to be. To be willing to do the work. To be willing to be in process . . .
Peace and Goodness.