“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
A musician develops a unique bond with her instrument whose worth is not so much tied to its monetary value, but rather to the intimacy of her connection with the instrument. After twenty years of disciplining my body and mind to play the oboe, it has become an extension of who I am and a vital means of communication—connecting me with people where words fail.
Through countless hours of practice, I have slowly adapted to my instrument’s demands in order to produce the best possible outcome (for me) in a performance. Music enables me to express every degree of emotion I feel, often more naturally than if I had to explain the same sentiments with language. When I perform, I am truly free—no thoughts, no worries—just music, and emotion.
“When the law of God is written on our hearts, our duty will be our delight.” (Matthew Henry)
This was not always the case. My students’ struggles remind me of the difficulties that only years of training, patience, dedication, and practice can overcome. At first, a student struggles with just the basics of playing. Then as they progress, these initial challenges give way to more advanced challenges, and the basic steps are no longer a burden. Sometimes, a student can become overwhelmed by all the details and ‘rules’ of playing, and give up in defeat. But the student that never gives up and keeps earnestly seeking to follow the guidance of her teacher, to the best of her ability, reaps the fruits of her labor. As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding to me than watching a student reach the point where she forgets the rules, lets go, and just makes music.
“Does that mean that by trusting in God, we do away with the law? Of course not! In fact we affirm the importance of the law.” (Romans 3:31)
Does this mean that the ‘laws’ of playing the oboe are no longer in effect? No, the same fingerings and techniques apply, the performer simply no longer has to think about them. What once was a struggle has become second nature. To hear a master musician perform (or any type of artist), is to hear someone who has perfected their technique to such an extent that the performer and instrument are lost to the music—music being the fruits of their labor and the ultimate goal of their life’s work.
“That thing is Freedom: the gift whereby ye most resemble your Maker and are yourselves parts of eternal reality.” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)
I would love to reach this stage with God’s law in my life. Yet in the words of Walter Hilton “I feel myself so far from true feeling of that I speak, that I can naught else but cry mercy and desire after it as I may.” I hope that after years of seeking to be more like Christ, a new heart will develop in me that is wholly obedient to God’s law by its very nature. I seek to make His law and character a natural extension of who I am, and my actions a reflection of the fruit of the spirit. I will always be bound to the law, but with God’s grace, I will no longer be burdened by the law—freeing me to enjoy the peace of heart and blessings from God for an eternity. I am an imperfect person, who, without Christ, is fatally flawed. My relationship with music is only a dim reflection, a parable, of what is possible if I allow the work of the Holy Spirit to be done in my life’s journey.
“That the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)
While I know very little about figure skating, something about Yuna Kim’s performance during the winter Olympics touched me. As the Ice Queen flew and danced across her stage, she radiated a freedom in her art that I suspect few are ever lucky enough to experience—she appeared to abandon herself. Yet I know that once she was a little girl who could barely walk. We stand in awe of the final product, and forget the journey.