May 2020

Play Skillfully

Psalm 33:1-5

Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;
Praise is becoming to the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
For the word of the Lord is upright,
And all His work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.

This is a favorite Psalm of mine, and I am always particularly affected by the phrase, “play skillfully with a shout of joy.” I believe there is an aspect of worship in the skillful execution of a talent, whether that talent be musical, artistic, scientific, mathematic or literary. Ability is God-given, and discipline that enhances that skill ought to be given back to Him in acknowledgement of His handiwork.

When my daughter was in middle school, she was part of a youth strings orchestra that met for rehearsals on Sunday afternoons. At the time I was facilitating a Bible Study meeting on Sunday evenings. So each Sunday, for many months, she and I would leave Sunday morning service and head downtown for her 3-hour rehearsal and drive back to church in time for the evening study group.

I would sit at the back of the room with my study notes while these young children tuned their instruments and struggled through some fairly advanced music. The conductor was highly proficient at extracting the best from them, and I often found that my pen had settled into the crease of my open Bible while I sat with eyes closed listening, feeling the resonance of every note from growling bass to soaring violin soprano. Even though they were quite young and mostly inexperienced, I thrilled at their combined sound and wept for the joy of their raw potential. Yes, I cried. Every week. And I was never really sure of all the reasons for that depth of expression. At the time, the circumstances of my life were in turmoil and my heart was sore, so I’m sure some of it was a simple cathartic release, but mostly I felt that I had been given a profound gift of symphony and sight, and the tears were ones of gratitude.

From time to time I remember those Sunday afternoons and wonder if any of those children became great. My daughter still has her viola, but she doesn’t play anymore. I don’t think she ever felt potential for greatness in that particular discipline. Since she is gifted in other areas and certainly called of God to be an elementary school teacher, we know that she is in the path God has for her, and she “plays skillfully” inspiring children to love learning.

If you’ll pardon the grammatical faux pax, what are you good at? Really think outside the box on this one. It could be cooking, organizing, gardening, folding laundry, corporate policy making, or stamp collecting. How do you express your particular skills? Do you see the execution of them as a form of worship? Spend some time this week offering your skill to the Lord as something He gave you in this life for His own good purposes and for your good. I hope you enjoy His gift to you, because I am convinced He meant it for your pleasure.

Lord of love, take my heart and make it Thine. Let it be Yours alone. Take my hands and cause them to work with all the craftsmanship you intended. I don’t know all that You had in mind regarding what I would do in my life, but I do know that it is all Yours and for Your glory. Be glorified in me, today. It is my delight to be known by You and to do Your will. Grant that I would not falter in the discipline of improving and forgive me for any faithlessness that keeps me from moving forward and gaining ground. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Until next week, fellow so-journers, play skillfully and with joy.

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