When I was five, my parents surprised me with piano lessons. Let's just say Mom and Dad were waaaay more excited than I was. Every week I trudged next door to Mrs. Tabor's house, struggled through a lesson, then dragged my feet back home to practice for next week.

Oh, how I hated piano!

If my little five-year-old brain had known enough words, it would've cried, "Loathe! Despise! Abhor!" all the way to lessons and back.

It wasn't poor Mrs. Tabor's fault. She was a kind, patient soul who made us cookies each time we had a recital.

It was me. I hated piano because every day when I sat down to practice, all I could think was, "This is so boring. My fingers don't work. I can't play anything fun!" No matter how I tried, my fingers would get all tangled and refuse to cooperate.

The song changes

So, I mumbled and grumbled my way through lessons for four long years until the blessed day our family moved. With the upheaval of relocating a family of six across the country, piano lessons were no longer possible. (And no one was happier than this kid right here.)

But a surprising thing happened.

Without my even realizing it, I'd learned how to read music along the way. And with the requirement of practicing boring lesson songs finished, I began picking up random sheet music around the house and playing for fun. I wasn't very good, but I kept at it. No scales, no exercises--just playing.

Before long I actually <gasp> enjoyed piano! And when I was thirteen, my parents found me a fabulous teacher I loved who guided my piano efforts until I went on to study music in college.

Playing in a new key

Walking this grace adventure Christ has provided for us reminds me of this piano journey. Once we've lived Christianity the "old" way for a while, changing the tune can feel hard.

For so long we trudged through the "have to's" and "shoulds" and "try hards," never fully grasping the joys of life. Even now we may stumble here and there or fall back into old patterns and get frustrated. "Why can't I figure this Christian life out?!"

But when we shift our focus to the riches we have in Christ (Eph. 3:8), the multitude of blessings that are already ours (Eph. 1:3), the thrill of close relationship with God (2 Cor. 5:19) . . . joyful music appears.

Instead of rushing...we rest.
Instead of disliking...we enjoy.
Instead of fretting...we trust.

It takes time: ordinary days where we "play" the new song because we want to. Mental shifts we must learn and relearn. Focused attention on a new and better way. But life gradually shifts. And soon we are living proof of a principle God set in place long ago:

what you focus on grows.

May you enjoy today as you focus on your grace adventure with Jesus, taking time to "play" and enjoy Him better, learning to sing the song of grace with your life.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature...
2 Peter 3:2-4

Prayer for today

Dear Poppa, help me to focus on the truth You are teaching my heart about Your grace. Don't let me get bogged down in trying to be perfect or attempting to live up to a religious standard Jesus already fulfilled. Help me to marvel and smile at You. And may my focus remain happily fixed right in the middle of great grace, until life looks different from the inside out. Amen

Journal & Reflection Questions

  1. What kind of self-story is my usual focus?
  2. How might a small shift in who I listen to and what I read/watch change the narrative?
  3. Contemplate one of these "focus" verses and write a short response to God. (Philippians 4:8, 2 Peter 1:3, Isaiah 26:3-4)