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So, there was this guy, an instrument maker in Florence (where I am currently sojourning) with the great name of Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco.  Anyway, somewhere around 1700 Bart decided it would be nice to have a keyboard instrument that played both softly and loudly.  The instruments of his day could only play (by virtue of their construction) at one dynamic level.  So, he invented what came to be known as THE PIANO!  Woohoo…another one of my many “art heroes” from Florence.

I’ve been playing the piano since I was 2 years old and so, it is like an “extra limb” to me.  The more I play, the more I love it.  When I was a piano student, while other parents asked, cajoled, and commanded, their kids to practice, mine begged me to stop.  Playing the piano, like singing, is “air” to me. 

I sat down at my in home piano a couple of months ago and found myself shocked at how “out of tune” it was.  OK, time to call the piano tuner. I was immediately struck by the fact that I was playing songs I ALWAYS play on my piano…same piano, same player, same songs…but the TUNING makes all the difference.  What I experienced as the difference between the tuned and un-tuned piano might be called, in our “doctrinal world”, an illustration of sanctification and spiritual discipline.

THE SONGthe song, of course, is the Message: God’s word through us.  This message is true, is written down to be “performed” for others, a message that doesn’t come from the “player” but from the composer.

THE PERFORMERis the Spirit of God in Jesus.  The TRUE “performer” is perfect, every muscle and tendon exactly honed for producing the best possible result from any instrument.  The “PERFORMER” is well-acquainted with the SONG and therefore knows how to interpret it…so far so good, right?

THE PIANOthat is ME and YOU.  When the SONG is perfect and the PERFORMER is perfect, then the PERFORMANCE should be perfect…but much depends on the instrument.   Every professional instrumentalist will tell you that the differences between a good instrument and a great instrument are numerous and can make or break a performance.

God doesn’t expect us to WRITE the song, BE the song, or even PERFORM the song…but He does hope we will TUNE ourselves FOR the song.  

He doesn’t expect us to make up His message of Good News…nor even have the strength to give that message to others (that is the Spirit’s job, in us…we just have to BE THERE) … but, if we are TUNED instruments the MESSAGE (SONG) will be clearer, cleaner, for those who need to HEAR the song as God intended.

How do we, as “instruments of God” get out-of-tune?  Circumstances change, “weather” changes.  Instruments fall apart when not played, or get worn by being played in a wrong way.  Tuning requires constant listening.  Tuning requires constant awareness (of the room, the weather…etc.) and tuning is something that never ceases.  One doesn’t tune an instrument once and then never again.  No, it is a constant necessity.  No matter how fine the instrument is, it requires a constant touch, adjustment, cleaning.

For us, this is sanctification: the act of becoming (through discipline of prayer, meditation, learning, fellowship, worship, exercise of giving…etc.) a well-tuned instrument for the SONG and the PERFORMER to play upon.

I can hardly write this without including St. Francis’ famous prayer,
which is a much more beautiful way of stating what I have so crudely tried to do:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.