I pull the bow across the strings and listen to the helpless screech I’ve gotten used to this past semester. My violin has gone extremely sharp and I still have no idea how to change it back. Unless I play around with the knobs for a half hour until I think it sounds right.
I would still be slightly wrong—the used, old, and bumped-around instrument in my hands is a rental that has been passed down to beginners every semester and is always a step higher than what its supposed to be.
Every song I play will be slightly wrong no matter how hard I try. Even if I hit all the notes right. Even if my timing is perfect.
This reminds me of this broken world and how my sinful nature fits into it.
Genesis 3: 6-13
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LordGod among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
I think I’m good person. At least, I try to be the best I can be, the woman God wants me to be. But I know I fall short every day. Since that fateful day in Genesis when Adam and Eve took a bite from the fruit, everything was affected by sin. That includes my decisions today. The serpent can still deceive.
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
When I go into my lessons for violin, my teacher told me that I should never use the words ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for my progress. Instead, I should use the phrases, “This isn’t working” and “This is working.”
I play a whole musical phrase without stopping—This is working.
My arm falls and I play two strings at once (screech!)—This isn’t working.
She told me that this could be a good way of looking at life.
I do a devotional in the morning and it makes me feel ready for my day—This is working.
I share a piece of gossip, but it doesn’t make me feel better about the situation—This isn’t working.
We can’t keep putting our actions into black and white boxes of good or bad. Though the process may seem organized, we would feel messy and dirty in no time.
Because we will always end up feeling inadequate and deficient.
By ourselves we will never be enough to live up to God’s standards.
But that is no reason to give up or start wandering in our faith.
God knows who we are and what we’ve done and loves us anyway. He sent his Son to repay the debt that we can’t.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:7-9
I hope you remember that as we are in the holiday season. We need to stop kicking ourselves for things we can’t go back and change. All we can do is go forward and try better for God.
I’m not very good at violin.
I had only successfully played the first verse of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” by the end of the semester.
But I’m glad I’m not good at it.
I found grace and humbleness and God’s love in that failing.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
God has us covered completely in His Love. Every inch of us from our strengths to our weaknesses.
About the Author:
Ellie Zumbach is currently a student at Malone University studying Creative Writing and Theatre. From a very young age, she has loved stories and their power to encourage, teach, and inspire. She is a proud member of a drama ministry team known as the Chancel Players and a co-director of the Writers Guild on campus.