Of the many things that I cannot do since injuring my left shoulder in a cycling accident several weeks ago, there are three activities that I especially miss : riding my bike, playing racquetball and playing my guitar.
The shoulder is recovering gradually – my physiotherapist says my slow progress is normal for shoulder injuries – and I can do many more things than I could a few weeks ago. I could probably ride my bike but I wouldn’t have full control in a crisis – so I’m showing remarkable restraint by holding off on that one 🙂 I could probably play racquetball (I play with my right hand) but what if I ran into the wall with my injured left shoulder while going for a shot? Again – not a good idea.
While I do miss playing racquetball and riding my bike, what I really miss is playing my guitar. I can play a little bit now, but I have discovered that playing bar chords requires muscles that go all the way up my arm to my shoulder. I didn’t really think about this before – I just played. Now that my shoulder has been hurt I can no longer make those chords. This has given me cause to reflect on the amazingly intricate design of the human body and the shortsightedness of the totally unproven evolutionary belief that something so wondrously complex as the human body could have come about by chance. But I digress …
Why do I miss playing the guitar so much? It’s not just the music, although I do love music. I’m not really even that great a guitarist – never took the time to develop that area to its fullest potential, I guess. But I do love to sing songs of worship and praise to my God, and my guitar is the instrument that helps stir up expressions of praise and worship in my heart.
The other day I picked up my guitar and attempted to play. I was able to get through one song – sort of – though you wouldn’t have wanted to hear it. But it was enough to stir up an intense longing in my heart to worship God with my guitar again. Of course I can do other things to help me come into the presence of God. So what’s the big deal about playing my guitar?
Good question. I think the thing is that for me, the guitar represents a way into the manifest (tangibly experienced) presence of God, and I don’t want to live without the experience of His nearness. What I am really longing for is the presence of God. I am hungry and thirsty for His presence. Not that He is absent from me now, but when I sing and play I sense Him drawing me into His presence in a tangible way, stirring up faith in me and speaking his word to my heart. Picking up my guitar again made me realize how easy it is to plateau, to drift, to get used to living with less than a full experience of God, to get used to running on fumes as my pastor put it in a recent sermon.
Not everyone can be a guitarist, but that’s not really what this post is about. All of us need to guard our hearts against getting used to living with a distant awareness of God instead of walking in intimate fellowship with Him. Jesus has made it possible for us to know the Father intimately and walk as His friends, hearing His voice and letting our choices be governed by His Word and His Spirit. Yet we can so easily get used to living with so much less. The legitimate pleasures that I wrote about in my last post can become substitutes for the presence of God. The everyday business of just getting through life can seem to take over, choking out the vibrancy of a vigorous life of faith. Picking up my guitar was a reminder from God that I am made for so much more than this. I am a citizen of heaven on earth – I represent an eternal Kingdom that will one day replace all earthly kingdoms and fill the whole earth with the glory of God. That’s how I want to live my life – with my eyes on the coming King and His Kingdom.