So you all know that I’m a writer. But what you might not know is that I’m also a piano teacher. I currently have fifteen wonderful students. They keep me busy and on my toes. Some of our conversations are hilarious! In order to increase my piano skills and be a better teacher for my students, I take piano lessons at a local college from a Christian professor.
I had a rough piano lesson this week. It wasn’t bad. But it was a stretch! I just finished learning one of my songs (Schubert’s Impromptu #3 in Gb, for those of you who want to know ), and my piano teacher was asking me to do some difficult things. I was supposed to play one passage faster than I’d ever played it before, hit the right notes, AND have one hand getting gradually softer while the other is getting gradually louder, all at the same time! I was getting frustrated. This is not easy stuff. My teacher kept saying, “You need to follow what it says on the score!”
Well, I eventually got it, but not without a good bit of frustration. As we were wrapping up our lesson, my teacher summarized what I’d learned that day:
“You just need to look at what’s on the score and play it the way that Schubert meant you to play it. Schubert was a brilliant composer… A genius! If you follow the marks in the score and Schubert’s rules, you’ll find in the end that it is truly more liberating than playing it how you would want to play it.”
That got me to thinking. That’s just like Christianity! “How so?” you might ask. Well, we have a rule book straight from God, the ultimate Mastermind, Genius, Composer of our songs and Writer of our stories. However, all of us (myself included!) have issues following those rules. We think we can make up our own rules, or tweak His just a bit to fit our circumstances and our lives. What I’ve been learning and studying is this: When we obey God’s rules, we are made really and truly free. That doesn’t make sense to us. It doesn’t completely make sense to me, either. But here’s what I know. I know that God has an amazing plan for each of our lives and for all of history. I know that the rules are there to protect us, to guide us, and to draw us closer to God. If we didn’t have those rules, where would we be? We wouldn’t need Jesus. We wouldn’t want Him. For a little while we might feel “free,” being able to do whatever we want whenever we want. But in the end, what’s left for us? Emptiness. There would be no delight, no peace, no joy, no Best Friend, heavenly Father, and Lover of our souls! Life would be meaningless. Without rules—without Jesus—there would be no meaning to life.
So how does this apply to writing? Well, here’s how it applies to my writing. It might not apply the same way to you. But I promise you that somehow and some way, you’ll be able to benefit from this.
I’m working on book two. I’m having a difficult time not adding to the Bible in several places. I think, “What would be wrong with Moses saying this here?” Or… “Could I make this more exciting?” Or… “How can I envision this in a way that will make more sense to my readers than what’s written here?” But here’s the thing. The Bible is sufficient for all of our needs and wants. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correct, for training in righteous; so that the man of God would be adequate, equipped for every good work.”) It doesn’t need to be more exciting. It doesn’t need to be more relatable. The Bible is timeless. It applies to all centuries and to people in all walks of life. How am I supposed to make the Bible better? I can’t! And I shouldn’t! Silly me to think that I ever could!
Maybe that’s not your struggle. Maybe for you it’s being willing to write something blatantly Christian with a good moral. Maybe you’re writing a historical or biblical fiction and you’ve been having similar struggles to mine. But just know that the Bible is sufficient. God’s word is sufficient. Rules are there to point us to Christ, not away from Him.
So back to my piano situation. My piano teacher was right. When I played what was written on the score, the music sounded so much better! If we let God have control of our lives and obey His rules, imagine the possibilities that could open up for us!
Next time you get frustrated by rules or boundaries, go back and read God’s word and ask Him to make it obvious to you what you’re missing in Himself and His word that is making you upset. God wants to reveal Himself to you. But He wants you to be willing to ask and to listen. So please, join me in listening to what God says about His rules and how we need to apply them to our lives. I know you’ll be blessed for it!
Do you know how I know you’ll be blessed?
Well… This is what happened.
I had just finished writing all of the above yesterday, feeling pretty guilty. I mean, I had wanted to change God’s plan for His people in His word. I had wanted to change the Bible! That’s pretty bad. So, I sat down to read my Bible, reading a few chapters in Proverbs as a Bible study I’m doing, and then turned to Exodus to study the passage in my Bible that I was about to write that day. I decided that I wasn’t going to add or embellish anything and that I was going to take that section straight from God’s word. (So you see, I was preaching to myself, not just you all! )
And guess what happened?
Well, in my last study of that section of Exodus, I studied using two different Bibles – my big study Bible and my little travel Bible. In doing that, I had somehow skipped an entire chapter in Exodus – Exodus 34! It was the chapter where Moses sees God’s presence, receives His commandments once again, and then comes back down to the mountain. But what Moses doesn’t know is that his face is shining brilliantly from the glory of the Lord! He comes down the mountain and all the Israelites panic because they’re so in fear of Moses and in fear of the glory of God! I don’t think I need to make that any more exciting, do you?
Exodus 34:29-30, “It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.”
So you see, God really does bless those who seek His plan first in their lives. Pretty neat story, huh?