One of my favorite parts about going to the symphony takes place before the conductor even lifts his baton. It’s when the orchestra begins to tune, when a cacophony of sound transforms into one beautiful unison note. Audience members hurry from the lobby to their seats so they’re not stuck waiting for the opening number to finish.
(Check out this audio clip to experience the wonder. By the way, the coughing is coming from the choir, which is sort of their way of tuning.)
Personally, I don’t like having to tune my instruments. (I bet Chris Tomlin doesn’t have to tune his own guitar. See my post on why I envy him and his worship cohorts.) I would never have the patience to tune a piano. But tuning is the first thing I do before I practice even on my own and definitely with other musicians. It’s also the last thing I do after our soundcheck.
(As a side note, I’ve actually had some rookie guitarists show up to rehearsal claiming, “I tuned it at home yesterday.”)
This past Sunday when I was tuning not only my electric but also the nylon string I used for an offering song, I saw how the process of tuning my instruments is like tuning myself in to the Holy Spirit. It’s essential not just in leading worship but even more so in everyday life to walk attuned to God.
Which strings are flat? Which are sharp? Not until it’s perfect—as perfect as my meter attests—will it sound right. Such is the case in life. Where am I stubbornly pushing sharp? Where I am I lazily falling flat?
A couple days ago I was reading the book of Acts and ran across this passage:
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. —Acts 16:6-7 ESV
These were men of prayer attuned to the Holy Spirit—specifically, Paul and Timothy. They were not only sensitive to God’s leading but also obedient. Interestingly, if you continue reading, you’ll find they were directed to Macedonia, where they would eventually be beaten and jailed. God was up to something.
Each day, and throughout the day, I need to match up to God’s A440. Only then will I be able to create beautiful music. On my own I might be fine. But in God’s symphony, I need to listen to Jesus the concert master’s pitch.
(I may have taken this metaphor too far.)