A Fine-Tuned Life

I sit here mesmerized, baby on lap, watching Heifetz play a Bach Chaconne.

What a combination – the power of Bach played by an all-time master. The idea pressing itself into my mind as I listen… is control.

Every note – every nuance – is perfectly balanced. The double stops punctuate, the spicatto bowing passages are crisp, brilliant and effortless. Yet the melody is the most powerful – always rising and soaring to the top in spite of the technical gymnastics being articulated.

Yet his music is marked with a certain wild abandon – a heart and soul that elevates the Chaconne above cold perfection to the warm Divine.

There is no doubt in my mind that this music is eternally linked to the heart of my Abba.

This single performance that fills me with awe on a snowy Thursday morning has required almost unspeakable dedication. A lifetime of days. Hours of commitment and practice as the body posture, hand formation, finger precision, bow weight are perfected and perfected again. The music has become so much a part of him that he needs not pause as the cameraman calls out “take one.” He begins with only the imperceptible prep breath that comes when the music has become part of your internal rhythm.

It is one thing to listen to such beauty and power and precision. Yet how unspeakably more it is to feel it in your fingers – the notes pouring out from muscle memory earned by the tedious aching hours. The bliss of the spicatto as it bounces in perfect balance.

There were days that I chaffed under the relentless pull of the music. The dedication required seemed too hard a task master – requiring too much. I wished to waller in the undisciplined freedom around me. But the pull of commitment and investment are powerful, and the practice room became my friend.

I remember, too, the days when I chaffed spiritually. Feeling frustrated that the walk, the dedication, seemed so difficult to master. Wishing that it would be easier. Wanting so desperately to hold perfection. But muscle memory only comes from practice.

Sometimes, in this walk, the commitment and investment keep us going. We press toward the goal that seems unattainable. This holiness – becoming like Christ – is surely farther out of our reach than the Bach Chaccone is to my pre-twinkling 3-year old right now. Were it not for grace.

The discipline of the holy life – discipline in every area – the “coming under” of ourselves to a Higher Power – is an absolutely necessary element. This, and only this, allow us to be fine-tuned to the place where we might enjoy the thrill of a life that sings with a holy brilliance.

Why is it that youth so often whispers to us that if we were truly committed enough, in love enough with Christ, that we would no longer need the discipline of holy living? Have we forgotten that the daily trying of our faith bringeth forth patience…spiritual muscle?

On this instrument, wild abandon alone will not get you far. My one-year-old has wild abandon. Minus the commitment. Minus the discipline, the sounds coming from his cardboard violin are less than holy, indeed.

But passionate worship, combined with the disciplined life, lets us experience the music that soars above the mundane. Having put in the daily hours of refinement, we gain “muscle memory” – the place where we no longer have to think about and analyze every movement. And the Holy Love that draws us passionately paints and colors and brings every note alive. And oh! What joyous freedom – to let His music move our practiced fingers.

Is this the point of arrival? The ultimate experience of holiness? Oh no, what a small God that would be!

I remember one – only one violin recital in 26 years of playing - when I finished feeling like I had played masterfully...almost. That’s the nature of this instrument. It is impossible to outgrow.

The more we learn - the more finely tuned our hearing becomes - the more we are aware of our need. And we practice on, that His music may sing through us more beautifully.

Dear Abba, would you fine-tune my life? Would You discipline my fingers, that their clumsiness will not get in the way of your song? Would you train my hearing, that it may discern what is truly beautiful? Would you bring me once again to the place of practice, that I may relish the freedom of being completely under your control? I worship you for your Music. I am in awe that you let me in.


Ronda said…
Sarah...You never fail to amaze me with your writing skills! That was so thought provoking and beautiful! How fun to hear a musician's musings...I could feel the passion in your writing! I think I'll add this to my "devotions" today...It really made me think! I so want God to fine-tune my life! Thanks for sharing and have a blessed day!
coffeechica said…
Yes! Thank you for that beautifully written truth!
The Going Blog said…
Amazing! I just listened to it and then read your post again. Both are exquisite. This is an article just waiting to be published somewhere :)
Liz said…
Wow. And I'm enjoying the listening right now. (Gracie giggles beside me b/c she doesn't think "boys" can play violin . .. working on that.)

I put that little Easter book in the mail today - I hope you enjoy it!

Take care!
Jody J said…
Wow, Sarah, you never cease to amaze me. (I had already decided that I wanted to use the word "amaze" before reading the other comments.:)) I love to read what you have to say. It always captivates me. Thanks for sharing!
katies said…
Sarah, your words are so wonderful. As I was reading that I wondered how any one could comment. Thanks for sharing.
Janella said…
Beautiful, Thank you
Myranda said…
Incredibly written and well worth the reading! You are talented - in many ways of course. 8-)
Aaron & Lanee said…
Very Nice Sarah! Enjoyed reading your blog and seeing all the pics of the family.
Lanee' Marshall
Valorie said…
Sarah, so articulate and well crafted. As a musician, I identify with the practice thing, as a lover of words, I admire your skill, as a fellow Christian, I join in your prayer. Very creative and convicting. I wish I could encapsulate this and get it to my girls who are taking violin. Maybe I will have them read it. We should all learn to make the practice room our friend -- musically and spiritually. Love ya.
Lavy Country said…
This spoke to my heart, Sarah - may God bless you in a special way as you have blessed so many with your stirring words from your heart. Love, wl.
Juwah said…

I so enjoyed this. Thank you.
Mark Goodyear said…
Nice writing--as others have said before me. I especially like the idea of seeking Christian discipline in order to tune our ears to the God's will for us.
heather said…
That's a concept that I'm at once familiar with and stranger to.
A musician, a theologian, a writer.
I'd like to think that resting as a child of God will grant me everything--why, no discipline is needed!
Except the discipline to rest as a child of God.
Found my way via Marcus and the High Calling. Thanks for the clip and the wonderful thoughts. Spiritual disciplines indeed bring us to a place where our life is marked by beauty. But we must wait and be developed slowly over the years.
"But passionate worship, combined with the disciplined life, lets us experience the music that soars above the mundane."


Beautiful. Thank-you...
"But passionate worship, combined with the disciplined life, lets us experience the music that soars above the mundane."


Beautiful. Thank-you...
Kelly S said…
This is my desire as well. Such a fun and well written article!
Toots said…
"...we practice on, that His music may sing through us more beautifully."

It's all good, but I love that!
L.L. Barkat said…
Came over through Mark Goodyear. A lovely reflection here, inspiring for those mundane moments when we feel like we are going, moving nowhere.
Sharra said…
What an incredible posting! I have absolutely no music talent whatsoever and have always dreamed of having some, but after reading your blog,it was just amazing to feel it come alive off the page. What a gift you must have.
loree2000 said…
As I type, my finger tips are tender and sore from practice! This is not a good sign...... :) I need to practice more often. I started learning the violin when my second child was 6 months old. That was 6 years ago. I now have four and am trying to take more time to practice. It is more like a hobby. I took lessons for two months because I needed to learn music. I also, took lessons for another two months time to learn some basic fiddle tunes. Now I'm learning via video. I guess a joyful noise is better than silence! :) I do play at church (which was my goal when I first started out).
Your words are beautiful! God Bless You!

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