Is there no end to the things of God that we can learn from music? A few weeks ago I overheard my son’s guitar teacher telling him something that I think the Lord intended for me too. Mr. Anderson said to Josh, “Now, I see that you’re having trouble staying in the measure. But remember, if you look ahead to the next one, or behind to the last one, you’ll get lost and miss the one you’re supposed to be working in.”
We can’t make the music that we were intended to make, if we don’t “stay in the measure”. A measure, in music, is a measurement of time that contains a specific number of pulses defined by a time signature (treblis.com). For you non music people (like me), think of the notes on and between the lines – picture the two vertical bars, at regular intervals. Having the bars keeps all the notes from running together, and gives structure to music in the way of timing. And timing is everything.
I have a habit of letting my mind race ahead. Often, it goes far beyond the particular measure of time in which God has placed me. Tomorrow, next year, in five years…there can be so many worries. But the Word has an answer for all that ails us: Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).
A counselor once advised my good friend not to spend so much time worrying about things that might happen. She said, “Think of all the wasted worry over things that never actually do happen.” Immediately I thought of Hemingway: The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one. How many deaths have I died with all my worrying about the future? Wasted thoughts, wasted time!
And looking back is no better. Regrets? I’ve had more than a few. My own bad choices led to many. Then there were times when others trampled on my limping and defenseless heart. Missed opportunities. Lost moments turned into lost hours, days, and beyond. There is plenty of fodder for angst and self-pity. Yet again, this is all just the same. Wasted thoughts, wasted time! Because the Truth says this: The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Prov 16:9). It took me a log time to realize that I did not control my life and so, ultimately I could not really derail His plan for me.
He will have His way with me. Sometimes He will rescue me from myself and others. Sometimes He will stand by, watching, waiting to bind up my wounds. But He is always there, in the midst of it all.
And here is what He, Himself has said: Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Is 43:18-19). And also: Behold, I am making all things new (Rev 21:5). We must behold. We must see the path He is placing before us. And if we are busy looking back (like Lot’s wife?) we will miss what the LORD is doing right in front of us. He is always at work.
I heard a snippet in a sermon that stays with me and I want to share it with you. I can’t remember how long it has been or who it was that said it. Isn’t the Word like that? The seed is scattered about and those who scatter it – the parents, the pastors, the friends…they may never know the harvest that is brought about by one tiny seed.
The snippet is about this verse – one which is a memorial stone in my journey: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). The pastor reminded us that, at the time this was written, there were no streetlights or flashlights. When it was night, it was really dark. Holding a lamp or lantern and walking would only cast enough light to see the very next step, the one immediately in front of you. You could not look ahead or behind you to see much of anything, but you could see the most important step, the one you were about to take.
And God has a reason for keeping us in the dark. His priorities are different than ours and He expects us to focus on what matters most. See how we started with this verse? Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matt 6:34). The Therefore points us to the preceding verse: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matt 6:33).
Staying in the measure means keeping your eyes fixed on the things God is calling you to, right now. As part of His kingdom, we participate in His greater plan. Is He telling you to call an old friend? Then do that. Is He telling you to stop folding clothes and read your toddler a story? Then do it. Is He telling you to close your computer and open your Bible? Then do that. Is He telling you to clean your house, being a good steward of the gifts He has given you? Then do it.
Maybe you are like me? This is a daily struggle, because He calls me to many things – caring for my family, writing, keeping house, homeschooling, ministering to friends, serving in the church…these are all worthy things! But when I am am overwhelmed by so many worthy priorities, I have to stop and pray and ask Him to show me how to proceed. His Word says He will do this for us: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).
Tell me, do you ever struggle with staying in the measure? What worthy things compete for your attention? How are you making music with your life today?