Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Step with the Music

The tiny instructor is a master dancer. I often walk away from class trying to figure out how she remembers each step of every routine. She never misses a beat as she leads people of all shapes and sizes to mimic her moves as the heat in the mirror-walled room rises each Saturday morning at 10 o'clock.

But she could not remember the next step this morning. She was teaching us the moves to a new song, and she stumbled as she sought to remember which foot to move where. Not allowing herself to get frustrated, she explained that she would be able to teach us as soon as the music started. She knew the moves well but needed the music in order to know how to move her feet and hips. And sure enough, the instructor did everything right on cue as soon as her iPod started to play the appointed song.

I know exactly what to do as long as the music is playing.

I need the music in order to move.

So do you and I.

There is a melody that accompanies my life. It is a tune I learned to whistle as a child when people repeatedly told me that I was beloved. As I grew older, I detected that the melody was not as simplistic as the pretty pictures in the children's books at church made it out to be. Rather, I discovered that the melody required many people playing many parts and that I, too, had a part to play. I learned to let go of some of what I thought belonged to me, realizing that I was only a steward of my time, talent and money - that it all belonged to God anyway - and that the music became more beautiful when I and others were willing to consistently play our parts.

There are times when the music is so loud that I cannot help but to sing and dance and move along. I discover that my life is in step with the long line of ordinary saints and faithful witnesses who have come before me, those who have demonstrated firsthand what Jesus said when he told the disciples that those who lose their life for his sake will discover a fuller life than they ever imagined while those who seek to cling to their life will lose it.

There are other times when I have a hard time hearing the music, times when I surround myself with other melodies both knowingly and unknowingly. In my teens and twenties, I chose to make these music-less chapters of life last a few years before discerning that I missed the music. By the grace of God, I soon encountered people who were willing to help me hear the music again, showing me how to stay in step with the melody one move at a time.

I know well how easy it is to forget the next steps. Not a day goes by when I am not seduced into believing that I can dance through life on my own and that I can teach others how to dance without turning on the music. I then quickly find myself stumbling and falling, realizing that I need the music in order to lead others. But I also need the music in order to live the life I have been invited to live.

I need the music in order to move.

I need to be surrounded by people who are singing praise to God. I need to be in the company of individuals who show me how to love God with all that I have while also loving my neighbor as myself. I need to be with a sister who joyfully tells me what a precious privilege it is to give what we have away - that it is only then that we comprehend how much has been given to us. I need partners who can introduce me to new songs - pushing me to play more difficult pieces that require more of me. I need the church - a church where each person is willing to play their part so that others might hear the music.

I need the music in order to move.

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