My older son and I attended a performance this week of Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini written by Sergei Rachmaninoff and performed by Orli Shaham.  I hold my breath a bit as I write that opening sentence because I am such a music novice that I fear I’ve somehow offended serious musicians by miswriting some of the details.  If so, let me make amends by declaring that the evening absolutely took my breath away.  Maybe it was the fact that I went with my thirteen-year-old because he really wanted to go and I can’t believe how grown-up he’s getting right before my eyes.  Maybe it was the ridiculously outstanding performance by Ms. Shaham.  Maybe it was the orchestra’s stunning rendition of the The Star Spangled Banner before the concert even began that brought everyone to their feet and tears to my eyes.  I don’t know.  But something about the evening has positively wrecked my heart and I can’t stop thinking about it.

One of the things that stands out to me happened as we were leaving the auditorium.  A man my son and I know was sitting in front of us and as we were inching out of our seats and into the main aisle, we were talking about the concert and he said – man, I should have stuck with it – referring to the few years of piano lessons he had as a child.  I laughed and nodded and listened as he encouraged my son to stick with it and keep learning more and more about the piano.

Stick with it – Alex with Orli Shaham

Right after that brief exchange, we were ushered backstage by our piano teacher for a few moments and a quick photo opportunity with Ms. Shaham and other young piano students.  She was gracious with her time and asked the students what pieces they were working on currently.  When she turned her attention towards my son he replied that he was working on Fur Elise by Beethoven.  She told him about a lesser known coda that was a part of that piece and they talked about their mutual love of the piano.

I thought about how awesome it was that she gave her full attention to a young pianist working on Fur Elise when she had just performed a much more difficult Rachmaninoff concerto.  They are in much different places of technical mastery.  But then I thought about how far my son had progressed in his ten years of studying piano.  Rachmaninoff is in his future if he sticks with it.  I then drew a significant spiritual connection from this concept – how could I not?  I thought about how crucial it is for us to stick with our spiritual development.  Do we know more about following Jesus than we did last month, two years ago, ten years ago?  Or have we struggled to make learning about His life a priority in our own?

Friends, there are going to be times in our life when, spiritually speaking, we are going to need to know how to play the Rachmaninoff.  Trouble and trials are a part of all of our lives and how we weather them tomorrow largely depends on what we are studying today.  I celebrate my older son’s work on Fur Elise and I celebrate my younger son’s work on a piece called Square Dance.  It is really fun to watch them make progress in their musical studies.  However, if five years from now the little one is still trying to master Square Dance I will likely feel that we’ve wasted a whole lot of time and money.  He needs to be applying himself, making his study a priority, and advancing in his knowledge.  As do we.

How is it with your closeness to Jesus today?  Are you spending time with Him, studying Him, abiding in Him?  Or are you moving through your days feeling disconnected and spiritually dry?  How are you sticking with a commitment to grow in Him?  Maybe today would be a perfect time to pick up that devotion book, a journal, or make time to read and meditate on a passage of scripture.  I just downloaded an app on my phone called Abide that offers guided meditation in different time amounts.  I was ready for something new and right now I am experiencing spiritual growth by using this resource.  I encourage you to give it a try if you need something fresh in your time with Jesus.

There is no substitute for consistent, dedicated time in study and prayer.  Hear this encouragement today – make the time, protect the time, and stick with it.  We ARE making progress.  Peace!