Some of you may know that in a former life, I underwent a significant amount of training for a career in music. This was a rich period of my life. The rigors of my training enriched my understanding of something that had—from the farthest recesses of my memory—called out to the deepest parts of my being. I met people who would become life-long friends. The experience opened my mind to a host of perspectives I had never encountered. And the lessons in discipline, patience, and delayed gratification have served my life in vocation in ways I never imagined possible.
That said, as I moved about the social groups that made up my colleagues in the field of music, I quickly became aware of some ways of being that would eventually drive me away from my ambitions to the higher echelons of professional music. There were pressures of all kinds that I found began to stifle and suffocate my humanity—the pressure for perfection, for self-promotion, and for recognition and esteem in the eyes of both my peers and my audience.
All of these temptations robbed me of the life that music had originally spoken into my soul. The feeling of utter worthlessness I could experience after a harsh criticism or poor performance made me question quite frequently the path in life I had chosen. At times, it was impossible for me to celebrate the accomplishments of my peers—for all I could discern in them was the feeling that none of my hard work would ever get me playing like so-and-so.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Luke 9:18-25
Choose life. Take up your cross.
God invites us to die over and over. Following Jesus means lots of death, lots of letting go. It’s all about surrender: trust in the Lord. Faced with the choice to let go again and again, I think we often fear, flee and fight. I certainly do.
Remember, for a moment, being in an ocean or a pond or a pool. Remember what it’s like floating on your back. You have to lean and let go. That’s the key: let go. The water holds us, supports our weight, if we trust and give our all. When we look up to see where we are or when we struggle, we sink, and end up thrashing or swimming. It’s only when we stop trying, when we surrender, that we float.