The stars are always out there, even in broad daylight. But they show up and show off best in absolute darkness. Night and day. That’s the way anyone would compare my sister’s ability on a keyboard with mine. Night and day. She plays the piano. I play with a piano.
There’s a whole long story from my childhood about having my musical talent overshadowed by my younger sister. I won’t bore you with it, except to say that I made it easy for her to shine.
Still, I love to play with a piano. I can’t believe I let a dozen years go by without a tuned up and ready-to-play piano in my home! Oh, we’ve had a piano for most of those years, but technicians and tuners told us she was a lost cause and could never be fully tuned without risking the need for replacing major parts and extensive refurbishing. Again, I won’t bore you with the details, except to say that a car in similar condition would be written off as “totaled.”
We’d had musicians (real ones who know how to “work” a keyboard) come into our living room and be drawn to our baby grand. I’d warn them. “She’s terribly out of tune.” They’d tap a few keys and grieve with us for a moment before closing the lid over her aged, but authentic, ebony and ivory. Others have tried to revive her, but no amount of talent or attention would bring her back to her days of youthfulness or usefulness. I played with her less and less.
Our baby grand died a slow and agonizing death. We didn’t care to have formal services or put an obit in the paper. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to have her cremated or carried to a “graveyard” —that unspeakable place where pianos have gone before her. So, we cautiously removed her wrought iron harp (the heart of every piano) and laid out the other parts of her body for a viewing. I grieved, then made plans. She’s a donor. Her shapely frame is set to become a bookshelf. Her harp will be the base of a conversation-starting coffee table. I hope to see her keys and strings become beautiful wall art and keep some memories alive.
We brought home a rescue piano a few months ago. She’d been left behind by a woman we never knew, an elderly church pianist. Her kids had no use for a heavy piano and no means to move one out of the old lady’s house. The poor Wurlitzer was stranded. Of all the things we can’t take with us, why not pianos?
Compared to the old baby grand, our new (gently used) piano takes no floor space at all. Great! But I saw the squiggly marks as I dusted and polished her up after the road trip to our home. It sort of made me angry, thinking one of the church pianist’s children or grandchildren had gone unsupervised and gotten ahold of a permanent marker. Then I saw them, like freckles. Stained into the wood with purpose. Random, yet consistent. Patterned in a way no child could have. The builder had put W’s all over her, like a signature, proudly saying “This one’s a Wurlitzer.”
Until last week, our new/gently used piano hadn’t seen a tuner since the 1980’s. Even fully tuned, she’ll never have the rich resounance of a baby grand. She doesn’t suit my taste as far as furniture goes, but year for year, her body hasn’t aged nearly as much as mine. She does what she was built to do without complaining. I’m thrilled to have rescued her. She’s in tune, and there’s no reason to think she won’t be around for a long, long time.
It’s good to have a tuned and ready-to-play piano again. Old songbooks and sheet music came up from the basement. Songs from the 60’s and 70’s. Old gospel songs that Mom and Dad used to play and sing. Classic hymns and favorite songs of praise. Yes!
The best part? The kids are grown and out of the house. They can no longer joke or compare me to better musicians. My husband doesn’t seem irritated by my stumbling over sharps and flats or notes that go way above or below the staffs and are hard for me to see, even with my glasses. I’m thrilled when he recognizes a melody. He sits in his recliner with the TV remote in his hand and listens until I finish all the verses and the chorus. Sometimes twice. He tells me he thinks I’m better after just a week of practice. How blessed I am.
An hour of piano practice every day for the rest of my life won’t make me shine, and that’s okay. But an hour of praise—every day this week? I already realize a difference. For sure, it’s brightened something inside of me.
“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3 ESV)
Praising God keeps me sane. It keeps me encouraged and gives me energy to do his work. Praising Jesus has no prerequisite. Praising Him, in fact, is the prerequisite. What a waste to confess sin to any other god, one who can’t act on said confession. How futile to pray to any god who is not, and never will be worthy of praise. Only the God of the Bible is almighty, everlasting, holy and loving and proven to be faithful. We can’t take hold of what God offers us until we recognize The One True God for who He is, what He has done, and we tell Him so. Whether the words are shouted from a mountain top or as a fleeting thought from our deepest need, praise is where every honest-to-goodness prayer begins and ends. Praise the Lord!
How sad that I went so long without my favorite instrument of praise. With a musical instrument or without. With singing and dancing and raising of hands, or without. It takes no special talent or gifting to praise the Lord. Got no rhythm? You can praise the Lord. Don’t know treble from bass or accelerando from a cappella? Praise the Lord anyway. Can’t carry a tune? Still, praise the Lord.
Praise opens the door to fellowship with our creator and savior.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name.” (Psalm 100:4 ESV)
The instruction to Praise God is given more often than any other instruction in the Bible. More than serving or loving or giving.
“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 150:6. ESV)
If Jesus is your Lord, you should polish up some praise and shine.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1 ESV)
So go ahead. Be the one who shines your light into the darkness of this world. What are you waiting for?
“I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1 ESV)
So go ahead, because everything good begins and ends with praise and glory to God, the Alpha and Omega. When we don’t have the talent, time or temperament to do much of anything else, we can praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, the light of the world! Mention his name. Give him glory, especially in the darkness. Then watch him shine.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5 14-16 ESV)
God has “marked” you for something great. He signed and sealed you the moment you called on him and confessed your need to be lifted out of darkness. On that same day the Holy Spirit said, “This one’s mine.” His light is in you. So. Go ahead. Shine.