Tuning an instrument of worship: an analogy

There is a hymn I used to ponder upon when I was a child, and my mother and I often sang it. The lyrics go like this:

Lord, make me an instrument
An instrument of worship
I lift up my hands in Your name (x2)

Lord, tune me, your instrument
Your instrument of worship
I lift up my hands in Your name (x2)

Lord, play now, a love song
A love song of worship
I lift up my hands in Your name (x2)

Over the last few months I returned to the significance of that hymn. I cherish the fact that the passage through life, the desire to serve the Lord, is analogous to finding a good instrument, tuning it and finally playing it. And so I thought (as far as the analogy is concerned, of course) -- if our Lord were walking into an instrument shop looking for something that would match me, He would pick a drum -- a deep-toned one. A floor tom would probably qualify for the analogy I'm trying to make, but He knows better.

In order for the lay reader to understand the analogy: video explanation to how drum tuning works. This is one of quite a few ways to tune the instrument, but you may get a general idea.

If you've watched the video, let's recapitulate what happened -- the drummer gets a new batter head (or he may use his old one if he so desires). He unscrews the lugs -- those little screw things on the rim of the drum -- carefully and slowly, and he takes the rim off. The head is fixed in, and the rim is placed back in and secured. Then comes the beating. First, the centre of the head is struck to see whether the head has any unpleasant-sounding undertones. If the drum sounds like a bass line from dubstep music where it slides from a higher note to a lower note, that's bad. The rim is then made tighter. Once the centre of the head gives out one single note when struck, the drummer proceeds to the sides of the skin.

At each lug, the skin is struck a few times. This is to see if all sides of the skin produce the same sound. If they don't, the lugs are tightened or loosened accordingly. Finally, after the painstaking process of tightening, loosening and pitch-checking, the drum is ready to be played once more.

End of factual background.

The analogy I am at least trying to make is this -- the way the Lord prepares a person for his vocation, a mission that is specific to him and him alone, is somewhat like tuning an instrument. It is not a perfect analogy, because many instruments these days are mass-produced. There are some which are custom-made, and they fit the analogy somewhat better, I guess? I imagine the best visual picture would be an instrument maker from, say, two centuries ago (or more), where every single instrument was hand-made. Back then, no two instruments were 100% similar -- at every age, no two people are 100% similar.

When I am given an instrument which I take to readily -- a drum, for instance -- I want to use it to make people's hearts race, to give them a sense of being alive. So the Lord calls me. He takes delight in me, and wants to let beautiful things come into the world through me. I take readily to Him, but because of my imperfections, and because He wants to be sure that I am tough enough for this mission, He tunes me. A number of challenges just pop up -- spiritual darkness, bad things which happen beyond my control, anger issues, to name a few. These things are not His doing, but He lets me fall and suffer the battering, so that at the end of it all, I can rise as a person who is truly strong in faith and virtue. It is very much like the necessary battering a drum head goes through when tuned.

And finally, with all the battering finished -- perhaps even during the necessary battering -- our Lord draws me to the place where I can play His love song for all the world to hear.

P.S. A little bit about the context of this post:

There was Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament earlier today and I attended it as usual. If I missed Saturday morning Mass, I still made sure I made it to Adoration. It was a time of complete silence, adoration and contemplation of the Real Presence of Christ, it was a time of prayer and in some cases, discernment. Confessions were also heard during this time.

Now I always delight in the thought of going for Adoration, even though sometimes, I am not in the best of humours to kneel (or sit) and pray. Sometimes, it has proven to be difficult for me to remain still, especially when I have the heart of a drummer and rhythms and music enter my mind. At the recent Faith Summer Conference, I was encouraged by a dear friend of mine to try to ask little from God, and to let Him do the talking. And ever since then, I did my best to contemplate and pray. Where I felt I needed to, I would dialogue with Him. Otherwise, I would stare into the Blessed Sacrament and imagine Him lovingly staring me in the eye and smiling.

I had been getting a few messages -- very strong ones -- during the last few Adorations, but I still need to pray about those. However, the message I received today was essentially the content of this post. I soon realised: how beautiful this is! How beautiful it is that we, in our vast imperfection, can be sent forth to tell the world what true beauty is, what true love and joy are. I made sure to write this post and share it.


Post a Comment