When I was a young pianist, my teacher signed me up for a music contest. The piece she selected for me was a Solfeggietto by Bach. It was without a doubt the most complicated piece I had ever tried to master. I don’t remember all the details that led up to the winter music contest event, but I do remember it involved some snow days, missed lessons, and me as an underprepared music student.

Looking back, I realize that my teacher should have pulled me from the contest. I hadn’t learned the piece the way it needed to be learned in order to perform it. It certainly wasn’t ready to be judged by music professionals. But I didn’t know to ask to be removed and she didn’t offer, so my parents took me to the school where the contest was being held and there I was.

I remember standing outside the door to the classroom and the feeling of dread that washed over me. Nothing good could come of this. I simply wasn’t ready to play. I even asked my parents not to come into the room that was already crowded with the parents of other pianists because I thought they would be disappointed in me.

My name was called, I gave the judges the copies of my music, and I sat down at the piano with my back to the audience. I did my best to play the piece I had tried to learn and had worked to memorize just the night before. I received a C rating on my performance and I never again played another piano solo at a music contest.

I have been reminded of this event in my life because I’ve been studying two scriptures about God’s law that I believe fit together. In 1 John 5:3, John writes that the one who truly loves God will follow His law. In James 1:25, James calls the law of God the law of freedom. I think when we put those things together we get this:

I love God. I follow God. I am free.

But here’s the thing. If we don’t know God, we can’t follow Him. We are moving through our Christian life like a young pianist at contest trying to play a piece she hadn’t studied enough. We might play a few measures well. We might begin strong. We might be able to skate through a few of the sections we don’t know as well. But we will never have the freedom to sit down and play it with confidence.

In The Message, Jesus invites his followers to find freedom in Him. He asks them, Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Get away with Me. Work with Me. Watch how I do it. I won’t lay anything heavy upon you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live lightly and freely. (Matthew 11:28-30)

We all desire to live lightly and freely. I believe when that isn’t our experience, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Am I faithfully following God’s commands? Do I really know what His commands even are? Have I studied Him and spent time with Him to realize His will? And if I have not, is it because the first thing I need to do is fall more in love with Him?

The good news is, we all wander and He knows it. That’s why His grace is abundant. Friends, today is a good day to get to know Him better. He has something amazing to show us about Himself and about ourselves. Let’s sit with Him, talk with Him, get to know Him more so that we can walk in the way that makes us… free. Peace.