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The Christian Palette, Issue # 19, Playing by Ear
February 19, 2016
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Playing by Ear
Only playing by ear is not encouraged by music teachers.
Duplicating a sonata from memory by recalling its beauty will result in a faulty rendition of the original. It is far better to read the music from the original score to capture its nuances.
However, as a Christian artist, I'm intrigued by the possibility that "playing by ear" when creatively engaged is a marvelous idea. I'm training myself to listen with every fiber of my being to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and then to "play" in response.
Learning to hear His instructions with the intention of obeying is my fondest ambition.
I don’t worry about remembering every detail of the written score; God will faithfully remind me. I need only tune my ear to know His voice.
I’ve often heard the complaint that hearing God is difficult. That is not true. Distinguishing His voice from all other noise is what is challenging.
Although it's true that He has spoken audibly to people in the past, chances are slim that He will speak that way to you!
Yet His voice can be heard in unmistakable, crisp tones from the Bible, and in gentle nudges within you reminding you of those very words. Getting familiar with His voice and isolating it from other noise is like trying to hear announcements in a busy airport! It will take time and effort, but it is not impossible. Once familiar, hearing Him will become as natural as hearing the voice of your best friend.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Mark 4:9
Most likely everyone within Jesus' ear shot had physical ears to hear! He was referring to spiritual hearing, which takes focused attention and deliberate effort.
We are not alone in this endeavor. The precious Holy Spirit, given to dwell in us when we were born again, will shed light on truths embodied in His word—if we are willing to be guided.
"Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?" Job 12:11
We "try and taste" words by believing and acting on them. God has given us the liberty of choosing to heed His word or disregarding it. However, what we enjoy will depend upon the choices made. Supernatural peace, thrilling answers to prayers, guidance, or something else which is undeniably divine in origin, are some benefits of making wise choices.
Each precious experience tucked away in our memory can be savored many times over in the future, especially when we face our next challenge. Life is full of challenges so you will have plenty of opportunity to hone your hearing!
This act of repeatedly "trying and tasting" His words will help store the music of His voice in our increasingly sensitive “ears”.
How you hear is vitally important. Humility to receive and the faith to act upon what we hear takes discipline and diligence.
"Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken." Jer 13:15
God places a premium on esteeming His word and His voice, which sheds light on His truth. He means what He says and says what He means. You can’t fool Him; either He has the first place in your life or other things do.
I cherish my time with Him, having learned from experience that it is time best spent! Put Him first and everything else will fall in place.
My creative life has a flow and ease that I testify is supernatural. With each passing day I grow more dependent on Him for everything—and in particular, creative inspiration and ability.
"The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back." Is 50:5
How I regret the times I've turned away! I regret tart words spoken in response to someone’s false accusation of me, when I knew He was commanding silence, or ignoring some good He wanted me to do, simply because it was time-consuming or inconvenient...
Choosing what I want to paint or sculpt, instead of taking the time to seek Him before beginning, or not persisting in a work because I feel miserable about it, are other examples of turning away. When I stuck with what He asked me to do, I always found myself awed at the results!
Turning away comes easily to me. Staying with what He has told me to do takes effort! I am now improving at being obedient.
So I urge you, whisper a prayer for His participation, listen for His direction, still your hands briefly before working, and you will move closer to a delightful life of “playing by ear!”
It is far better to make a mistake stepping out in a faith-filled response to His voice than to never step out at all!
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