Years ago, playing violin in my church’s orchestra taught me a memorable life lesson. It came to mind while I was practicing this week, partly because we played Mendelssohn then, and I am playing him now.
Anyways, August 2004. We were about to start our last concert while we were touring around churches in Taiwan, and I sat miserably at the first desk of the second violins resenting everyone. Resenting my violin teacher for making me come. Resenting my mom for persuading me that even if I wasn’t technically good enough it didn’t matter. Resenting my desk partner (two violins to a music stand) for being a virtuoso. Resenting Mendelssohn for writing such ridiculous music as his Symphony No. 2. Resenting God for the situation he put me in. Resenting myself for not living up to it.
Looking up at the crowds, it struck me that playing all my notes was not the point. At the end of the day, whether I played G# or staccato, what mattered was that God loves because he is good. He doesn’t love because I am good – whether good in general, good at playing or whatever. My concerns are so small! This was a delightful thought.
I was free from my sheets of music! Why were we even here? So that God’s name would be declared to the nations. Not so that I could get 100% hit rate on bars of semi-demi-quavers and impress my teacher, my stand partner, my mom, the audience, myself, or even God. Yes, we were offering the music to him, but when is anything we offer God ‘good’?
So I decided to delight in God, and that was that.
(until I forgot again…! and so the saga continues. Romans 11:5-6 sums this up well.)
Here is part 1/3 of the Mendelssohn symphony ;) I can’t find the ridiculous place I couldn’t play so I cannot point it out to you.