My daughter’s piano teacher made it clear to me that memorizing and reciting mnemonic phrases for musical notes is not the same as playing the music correctly. My daughter knows “every good boy does fine” and “grizzly bears don’t fear anything.” These two phrases have helped her learn the notes. But as her music gets more complicated she must improve her ability to play those notes correctly; on demand; no matter the order in which they appear on the page; no matter the tempo; no matter the octave.
That’s the goal.
The Bible is full of verses. Perhaps you know a few. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” “Our Father, who art in heaven . . .” “For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten son . . .” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” “In the beginning was the Word . . .”
What I have come to realize is that memorizing and reciting scripture is not the same as applying its principals correctly. It’s one thing when all is new and good and life is all it should be and all you expect. But when life gets complicated, we must be ready and able to live out this faith we’ve been professing—on demand; no matter the order in which the chaos appears; no matter the tempo of the trail; no matter the octave of the obstacle.
That’s the goal.
How do we do this?
I asked my daughter’s teacher for ideas on how I can help my daughter get over this hump in her music lessons. She suggested we look through her music and identify all of the “skips” using color pencils. This will teach her to notice when something “different” or unpredictable is happening. She will realize that music involves more than just one note up the scale after the other. It sometimes involves chords, rests, repeats, and those lovely skips. As she learns to anticipate and identify these variations, over time, she will be able to play what is written as opposed to making it up as she goes.
Living out our faith has a lot in common with learning the piano. If we want to shift from just saying “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” to actually standing strong when being mistreated by our peers as Paul did when he lived out this verse, we must anticipate being mistreated by our peers. If we want to mature by not only declaring that “we are a Royal Priesthood” but go so far as to walk in the grace and forgiveness extended to us as Daughters of the King, we must identify those truths that make us “Daughter of the King,” namely our Heavenly Father’s death, burial, and resurrection.
It’s a great practice to learn and memorize scripture. We are encouraged to “hide its words in our hearts . . .” But it doesn’t stop there. That passage goes on to say “. . . that I may not sin against Him.” As believers in Christ, we were created to live it out. We are called to apply its wisdom and be transformed.
Keep reading. Keep memorizing. And when life hands you something more complicated than you prefer, no worries. You may not have preferred it, but you anticipated it, and you are ready to play it out as it is written!