I have a Yamaha Thinline Acoustic Electric Guitar that sits proudly in its case underneath my bed. I purchased it off of my best friend during my sophomore year of college, bound and determined to be the best guitar player this side of the Mississippi. I bought new strings, picked up the best set of picks I could find, found an instructional book on how to play the guitar, and even scheduled daily times for learning new techniques and practicing my new found skill. In short, I had all the pieces I needed to become a master guitarist. I was set to enter my name alongside the likes of Jimmy Hendricks, Eric Clapton, and B.B. King. I mentally and emotionally prepared myself for the spotlight, swooning girls, thousands of autographs and adoring fans. The future looked bright.
Nearly six years later, the only attention my guitar gets is from the dust bunnies that co-inhabit the space beneath my bed. I learned a few chords and was able to struggle through a few Chris Tomlin songs at youth group, but ultimately my career stalled out before it ever really began. All the pieces were there, the passion, the vision, the tools to accomplish my goal, but I lacked willpower and perseverance. I wanted all of the glory without the hard work. I wanted to pick effortlessly through the most complex songs, but avoided the calloused fingers and monotonous hours of practice. I wanted to pull off the impossible, move from Point-A to Point-B without taking the journey to get there.
“I wanted all of the glory without the hard work.”
Sadly the same can be said frequently about my relationship with God as well. All too often I find myself thinking that this will be the Bible reading plan I actually finish, this will be the year where I am actually going to finish the entire Bible cover-to-cover, this will be the journal that I actually fill and write in daily, this will be the week I pray every day and listen for God’s voice, this time I’ll actually memorize the 500 verses all Christians need to know, this will be the day that I finally turn from those tiresome habitual sins.
Forget last time.
This time will be different.
A week goes by and the passion dies, a busy day comes along and I would rather play video games than read Leviticus, my alarm goes off and I would much rather have an extra fifteen minutes of sleep than spend time giving my day over to God. And I find myself treating my relationship with God like the Yamaha Thinline Guitar sitting underneath my bed.
The problem is not a lack of passion or vision; I have no shortage of those components. Essentially I have all the pieces. Ultimately, the problem lies in my avoidance of hard work, the daily struggle to grow closer to God. I want the mountaintop experiences where I hear God clearly, but would honestly rather avoid the daily and oftentimes monotonous discipline. I want to live in the highlight reel, avoiding altogether the discipline, practice, failure and struggle that it takes to make one.
It is far too easy to cast a vision of the perfect future, of what our perfect life would look like. I know exactly who I want to be, I know what the perfect version of me looks like, but when I get so caught up on the end goal I forget that in order to get there I have to work hard. When I wake up tomorrow and have not miraculously transformed into the shimmering example of manhood and Christendom I so desperately want to be, I more often than not throw in the towel.
“A lifetime of steps eventually adds up to one crazy journey.”
Like a toddler learning to walk, I should not try to run before I know how to walk. My goal for tomorrow should not be the ultimate end goal, but rather a single step towards that goal. Instead of reading the entire Bible maybe my focus can be reading one chapter. Instead of waking up two hours earlier, maybe I start with five minutes. Instead of trying to fight my sin battle valiantly alone, maybe I seek out an accountability partner to fight the fight alongside me. Everyday should see my draw one more step closer to God, and while those steps may seem insignificant and unsubstantial in the moment, a lifetime of steps eventually adds up to one crazy journey. A journey that sees us far closer to God than we could ever have imagined when we started out and drawing closer to Him every single day.
Like my guitar, at the end of the day we have the choice to shut God up in a box and shove Him underneath our beds, a distant reminder of what could have been but was never realized. Or, we can take it one step at a time, fumbling at first, fighting for progress and mastery, but eventually allowing our efforts to join the greater melody that permeates us all.