The Instrument of a Great Awakening

When I was 6 years old, I asked my parents about learning a musical instrument.  They said they would be happy to help, and I could choose the instrument I wanted to play.  There was a condition, though.  Whatever I chose, I would need to take lessons, and be sure to practice.  Every day.  I picked the guitar, and was thrilled to get a junior sized one that I could handle for my birthday.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

The Thrill Was Gone

My Mom located an instructor for weekly lessons and I started my daily practices.  She would set a timer for 30 minutes.  Every day.  As I grew older, the thrill wore off, and the lessons, and especially the practicing, became a chore.  I wanted to quit, but my folks wouldn’t let me.

As my Dad was in the Army, we moved every few years, and in each new town, my Mom would research and locate a highly rated teacher, and the lessons would continue.  I have vivid memories of my folks driving me great distances, in all kinds of weather, to get me to my guitar lessons.  By the time I was in Junior High school, my practice sessions increased to an hour.  I was much more interested in sports, but no matter.  I was allowed to go out for a team only if I would commit to finish my homework, and also practice my guitar.  Every day.

To be honest, there were many days when I truly hated the guitar. That began to change in High School.  Through all the tedium, demanding teachers and forced practice sessions, I achieved enough proficiency and skill with the instrument that I realized I enjoyed making music.  All kinds of music, including the songs we were listening to on our favorite records and radio stations. I had opportunities to perform, both solo and in bands, and discovered first-hand how transcendent music can be, especially with a live audience and a few other skilled players. That set me on a course that continues, in one form or the other, to this day.

Awake My Soul

Of all the transcendent moments I’ve experienced through playing the guitar, however— and there have been many through the years— the most sublime have been those in which I am playing in deliberate praise of the Lord. It could be a public setting, or privately before an audience of One, but there is something about praising our Maker with my guitar that awakens my soul.  I experience the stirring that the band Mumford & Sons sang about so exquisitely:

Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
You were made to meet your maker [1]

Thousands of years earlier, the psalmist David wrote:

My heart, O God, is steadfast;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples. (Psalm 108:1-3)

I look back now on all the guitar lessons and daily practice sessions of my youth in a different light.  I scarcely remember the drudgery and missed opportunities for other activities, and see instead the instrument, notes and composition of a great awakening. One that has transported me, more than once, to meet my Maker.

[1] Mumford & Sons, “Awake My Soul” (Sigh No More, Cooperative 2009)