Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. — Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
Today, as I am in my seventieth decade of life, I am grateful for the opportunity to play and sing for several long-term care facilities around my community. But I still remember those long-ago afternoon music lessons when I was a young boy. While my friends were outside playing, I was in my room puffing and squawking through clarinet lessons. Because my stepfather was a concert clarinetist, he had chosen that instrument for me and began to instruct me beginning at about the age of six. Oh, how I hated the clarinet! I trudged through the endless practicing and longed for a world without lessons. In spite of that youthful agony, today as I look back, I am grateful for that discipline and the lifetime of music that it has given me.
More than fifty years later, I sat with my father as he crossed the doorway from earth to heaven. I could hardly speak, but somehow with my guitar in hand, I was able to sing for him. Though Dad could no longer sing with me, the music of the hymns joined us together in a powerful way.
Discipline is one aspect of music that is often overlooked today. As my mom used to say, the ballerina floats with the music in such an apparently effortless way because she has worked long hours before she dances for us. In the same way, guarding the music of our hearts is like a daily music lesson that prepares us so that in our moments of greatest challenge or deepest anguish, we will discover God’s gift to play effortlessly. Music is a precious gift and the language of the heart, but how we use that gift is our choice. The Bible tells us to be careful to guard our hearts, because God wants the melody that plays there to be the music of heaven and the song of the redeemed!