Sunday, August 25, 2013

God speaks

Today my husband and I had a rare treat - to be able to sit under the ministry of someone else with no expectation of us being "in ministry." It's a pleasure we have had to carve out for ourselves and which, truth be told, we plan to do again.

The worship was real, not hyped up - and the music that was the vehicle to worship was provided by just three people and their instruments and voices ... and the willingness and passion to be worshipers in spite of what everyone else did or said. 

And then came the time for the guy at the front to talk. His simple, easy manner made him relate-able ... and love oozed from every fiber of his being; it was irresistible. He spoke on God's desire to speak to us about us, about our families, about things in our experience, and sometimes even about other people. He outlined that it doesn't have to be more complicated or super-spiritual than just asking God to talk to us about what we need to hear. He stressed that the purpose of the kind of messages that God gives us through the Spirit is building up or encouragement, helping us draw nearer to God, and comforting us in our trials. Nothing negative or judgmental in that kind of message.

He gave us a small exercise to do at the end ... a exercise designed to practice what he had been talking about. He asked us to pray to God and request that God show us an object in the room and talk to us about ourselves through that object. And then to open our spiritual ears and listen to what He had to say.

It was one of the most powerful experiences I've had spiritually in a long time. 

"Mandolin" photo courtesy of
lamnee at
As I looked around the room, expecting God to speak to me through some thing or things, my eyes were drawn to a couple of the instruments that had been used in worship earlier, sitting side by side - a mandolin and a violin. Each was on its stand, waiting for someone to pick it up and use it ... or put it away. I dwelt on the construction of the instrument, what the various parts did, and how the instrument as a whole produced sound.

And God started to speak to me.

I was acutely aware that each instrument was a masterpiece and that each part was designed to enhance the particular sound of the instrument. The neck of the mandolin, for example, was straight and true, and was held in its right place by a steel rod that - though invisible - ensured that the strings did not easily go out of tune. Though small, the whole instrument produced a high, pleasing sound that complimented the lower, more bass sounds in the guitar and the worship leader's voice. It played its part - and when it was not being used, it waited, still in tune in case its owner picked it up. It - in and of itself - was powerless to produce those sounds. Yet it was made to be held, to be cradled close to the heart, and to sing its own song in its own voice when in the Master's hands. That trueness - that in-tune readiness, that powerlessness, was the lesson of the mandolin for me, as well as was the deep luster of several layers of lacquer over the stained wood - all contributing to the richness of the instrument. 

Thanks to kongsky at
for his photo, "Beautiful Violin"
When I considered the violin sitting next to it on its stand, those lessons repeated themselves ... along with one other. 

I love wood. I love how the richness of the grain comes out when it is stained and how it can be burnished bright to make it shine. Nowhere is this more true than in the craftsmanship in the violin. Intricate carving, expert modeling inside and out, and the beautiful wood's character - personified in the full, aching voice - all make the violin one of my favorite voices in the orchestra. 

This time though, my eyes were drawn to the slits in the wood - to what are known as the f-holes. They are sliced into the thinly planed and shaped body of the violin at strategic points, visible to all, and if this cutting is not done exactly right, it could shatter it.  The violin (if it had feelings) could view such an experience as wounding, marring, even mutilation. There is nothing that can fill those holes; once there, there is no going back. 

And yet, if not for the holes, the sound that came forth (if it came forth at all) would be muffled, muted, even stifled. It is the vibration of the strings against the bow, resonating through the holes into the depths of the instrument and back out again, that gives it its remarkably sweet, expressive, full voice. In a very real way, it is the wounding that enriches the message that the violin speaks. This truth reached down into that wounded place in me and made me understand that it is the "holes" in me that make me God's special instrument to tell His message in ways that I can only begin to imagine and could barely believe. 

Thank You, God.  I needed to hear that.

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