My piano teacher ended every lesson the same way. After thirty minutes of my plunking on her Steinway, she would scoot me off the bench to watch her play some impressive, advanced piece. At the end of the last note, she’d look up at me, gesture to the keyboard, and say, “Now remember, you have these same 88 keys on your piano at home.”
She was trying to encourage me, but sometimes, especially after a rough lesson, it felt like an accusation: You have everything you need… so why aren’t you playing better? What’s wrong with you?
After four years of lessons, it was evident that I lacked many things, but mostly I needed a deeper desire and a different DNA. No matter how hard we tried, those 88 keys just weren’t enough.
Eventually, I ended up trading my piano books for basketball shoes.
However, I still think about what that piano teacher taught me, usually during Lent – which begins next week, by the way.
Lent is the forty days before Easter. It’s a season of the liturgical calendar where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. – (from the Upper Room).
Similar to my lesson, it’s when we seem to spend most of the time remembering how hopeless we are:
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” -Romans 3:23
Then, it ends with us standing for the Hallelujah chorus and a hopeful reminder:
“…the same Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you…” -Romans 8:11
And sometimes, especially after a rough winter, “you have the same spirit” can sound a lot like “you have these same keys…”
You have everything you need… What’s wrong with you?
As a poor piano student, I needed more than practice and encouragement. And as a rebellious child of God, I always need more than penance and an empty grave.
“…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, … having no hope and without God in the world.” -Ephesians 2:12
We celebrate Easter because God responds to the greatest needs of His people.
He gives me the same Person who walked every station of the cross in my place, suffered for my sake, and died for my debt.
He gives me the same Spirit who revived Jesus in the grave, reformed His torn flesh, and rewrote the history of sinners everywhere.
He gives Himself – the same yesterday, today, and forever.
This kind of personal provision is counter-cultural. At work, our bosses send us to training, set us up with budgets, and then step back behind closed doors.
Modern parenting gives our kids every resource, endless opportunities, and everything except our time.
We even see it in our marriages when we choose results over relationship.
It’s a kind of radical pursuit that’s hard for us, and especially hard to believe about us.
It takes me a good forty days to relearn life’s not about having everything I need. It’s about having the One I need.
And if that lesson’s never covered, we can end up with a lifetime of my piano lessons.
Resurrection power doesn’t come from a mysterious energy we can tap into when we want to perform better. It’s not some strange force for us to master, like with Luke Skywalker and his closed eyes and sweaty brow.
The Holy Spirit is a Person who loves you and wants you to live with Him forever. If you do nothing else for Lent, learn that song by heart…
“My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – Ezekiel 37:27
If I’m not careful, this season can play a dissonant chord on my soul. With all the fasting, praying, and self-denial, I’m prone to believe that Easter is mine to earn. I’m tempted to scoot away from God and trust in my own hard work and sacrifice. Or worse, in some grand or upright ritual.
It is good for us to sit in our ashes for a while and remember what we really deserve. And it’s important to delight in what we were meant to be.
But it’s a matter of life and death that we know the Person in whom we can do both without shame or pride.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” – John 14:18
This Lenten season, play because you are loved, friend. Stand because He’s enough. Face the music because the God Omnipotent reigneth in you. Yes, that same One.
And He shall reign forever and ever