As I dropped my daughter off at school today I told her to always do her best, to be her best. I think I better hold myself to that same standard. After all, when did we start being satisfied with “good enough.” If we only go through the motions it doesn’t honor the gifts that God has blessed us with. This Christmas season, the Wednesday morning ladies group asked if I would sing a song for them each week of their Advent study. Of course I love to sing, so I promptly said yes.
I thought of the different Christmas songs I like to do this time of year and decided just how I wanted to go about the task at hand. When the time came, I was given a packet for specific songs to be played each week that would go along with the lessons. It was a beautiful packet complete with a cover that had a hand-drawn evergreen branch and purple ribbon attached. These were not the songs I had planned, in fact these songs would require some practice, but if someone had gone to all the effort of creating such a lovely song book for everyone in the study, I could put some time and effort into making these songs as lovely an offering as I could.
I was familiar with most of the songs but hadn’t ever played but a couple of them. I would need to learn them. Being that I don’t read music, I sat down with my guitar and my ear buds and listened to each one. I studied the melodies and then worked with my guitar to find chords that would fit nicely with the melody in my vocal range. I got creative with where I could add musical breaks, little guitar pieces or even throw in the chorus of an unexpected song that happened to work well with those same chords.
The other night we gathered at The Lunch Box on Main St. to drink hot chocolate and eat sugar cookies following our mission project of tying scarves around lampposts downtown. I sat down at the piano to play some Christmas carols for everyone to sing along with. I hadn’t prepared anything but we had a lot of fun singing together. I did notice one thing. “Okay, does anyone know the next verse?” I asked with every song. It seems we all knew the first verses, but anything beyond that…not so much.
This became another joy I gained as I prepared the songs each week for the ladies study. Reading further into the additional verses I found an intriguing amount of depth in the lyrics. No wonder they were having a study over these songs! There is such rich application to our lives today, and our understanding of the Christmas story in those lyrics. I had been asked to be a part of helping people with a study and in turn I was thoroughly blessed by taking a fresh perspective on something I’ve been doing most of my life. Through the blessing of rethinking the Christmas songs I was playing, I was able to take a step back and study them from different angles. It changed the way I felt about both the songs and the way that I approach the privilege of getting to play them.
I’d like to encourage you to find new ways of looking at the way you do things. Take a step back and see the whole picture God is painting for you. How are we doing with the way we treat others? How are we doing with how we get involved with our family, our home, our church? Even when we feel like we’re pretty good at something, what kind of difference would it make to amp up the effort and preparation you put in? What if we tried doing things in a way that is different from how we’ve always done it? How can we remember how exciting it was to do things that we’ve now gotten out of the habit of doing? What can re-ignite in us the passions that we’ve loved throughout life?
I am going to try to answer all of those questions for myself. I want to re-examine where I’m simply going through the motions and determine how I can instead honor God with my best efforts. Will you join me?
“By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.” – Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, Charles Wesley, 1744
Tate Monroe, Director of Discipleship and Development