I change my guitar strings frequently. Certainly I do it much more often than the average guitarist. There are two reasons I change them so regularly. First, new strings sound better. There is a crispness that older strings lose over time. The other reason for the frequent changes is that new strings are less likely to break. I am not so concerned about having a string snap in the middle of a song when they are fresh.
As I put each new string on my guitar, they start out slack. But as I turn the tuning knob, they stretch and tighten. When a string is fully up to its intended pitch is when it can make music, the way it was intended. Note also, though, that it is at that same point that the string is close to the breaking point. If I over-tighten it too much… snap!
In our fast-paced society, it’s pretty normal to feel stretched. The tension can be palpable. And it can be that way regularly. Like my guitar strings, we can feel stretched and pulled, as though we may break at any moment. Sometimes we would desperately like the tension to cease. A little bit of ease would seem like a nice respite at times, right?
Notice, though, that it is only when the guitar strings are tight that the instrument can produce truly beautiful music. If I leave the strings slack, there will be no melody or harmony. None of the rich, lush tones that make the music what it should be could happen. There would be only a dull, lifeless slapping of loose strings against the guitar top. Not very pretty to hear.
Many years ago, Phil Keaggy wrote a wonderful song entitled, “Play Through Me.” In it he talks of playing chords he’s never heard before because of God’s work in His life. Is it possible that we need the tension in life in order to produce beautiful music?
You may be in the midst of a stressful time at work, at home, at church, or some other area of life. Maybe you feel stretched. Maybe it seems as though you’re close to the breaking point. But the Apostle Paul reminds us, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). It is in the midst of our weaknesses that we can find His strength.
Earlier in that same letter, Paul said, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8). That sounds pretty intense, like a guitar string on the verge of breaking. The good news in the midst of this is that we need never worry about God over-tightening us. He knows exactly what He’s doing. He promised us that, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3). Those of us involved in worship ministry are not exempt from such stretching. In fact, it may be part of God’s plan to shape and form us more and more into fit vessels to bring His glory and presence into our weekly worship gatherings. We can find His strength in the midst of our weakness.
So we go forward, confident in our faithful God, trusting Him. As Paul told Timothy, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). Often, it is in the trials and tensions that God readies us to make beautiful music for His glory. Or, as Romans 5:3-4 puts it, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…”
Lord, let me be Your instrument. Tighten my strings. Play through me for Your glory. Amen.
© 2013, 2014 Creator Magazine All Rights Reserved