Monday, March 15, 2010

Keep Playing!

There is a story that I once read. It goes like this:

There was a mom who wanted to encourage her son to continue take piano lessons. One day she hears that a famous pianist was going to give a concert in the city.

So, she packs up her son, dresses both of them up and buys tickets for the event.
She hopes that by seeing a master at the piano, her son will get inspired.

Well, it doesn’t turn out exactly as she hoped.

Waiting for a concert to begin is tough for a little boy. There is nothing to do and lots of people all around that are all dressed up. Can’t play, can’t talk real loud – just have to sit and wait. Most little boys’ worst nightmare!

And there on the stage, with a spotlight on it – is a piano.

The mom is tired from all the fidgeting, trying to get her boy to behave and she gets distracted. Next thing you know, she turns around and her boy is gone! Where could he have gone? How long has he been gone? Where is he now? It’s a parent’s worst nightmare…almost.

She does not have to feel anxious long because soon there is a disturbance in the crowd. There on the stage is her little boy. How did he get there?

Don’t know but there he is - sitting on the piano bench and - he begins to play…chopsticks.

The audience starts to get stirred up. Some are laughing but others are getting angry. They paid for this concert! “Hey, get that kid off the stage! Who is that kid? Where are his parents?” You would think that the boy would stop – no he seems oblivious as he continues to play.

The master is just off-stage and he hears the commotion. It doesn’t take him long to figure it out and he quickly comes on the stage.

The crowd quiets down – what is going to happen next?

Then the master slides right up next to the boy and begins to improvise. He starts to take this childish tune and begins to turn it into something beautiful. The crowd is stunned into silence as music fills the hall. Soaring, beautiful, inspired and underneath it – chopsticks.

And the whole time, the master is whispering to the little boy. “Keep going. No matter what - don’t stop playing.”

I really like this story because it is a lot like our lives.

Most of us live normal lives. We get up, do our jobs, take care of our families, try to do good and not harm, and get some rest for the next day – to do it all over again. For the most part, not a lot of drama. It’s simple – like chopsticks.

Sometimes it seems too simple. Some days it seems that all we’ve done is wipe noses and bottoms. Answer email and work on someone else’s project. Pick up the same toys and clean the same messes.

Other days the reverse – we are asked to step outside of our comfort zone and do something we’ve never done before. Don’t these people realize, I can only play chopsticks?

All this can cause us to wonder whether any of the things we are doing are making a difference at all? I’m doing the best I can but nothing seems to change. The children still misbehave. The jerks at work are still…jerks. People still hurt each other and there is still so much suffering.

Maybe I should just quit.

And that’s when the Master reminds me, “Keep going. No matter what - don’t stop playing.”

I can’t change the whole world. I can’t stop all the suffering. I can’t make my children be perfect. But I can make my little part of it nicer. I can wipe one more runny nose, change one more poopy diaper, pick up another toy.

And while my actions may be simple, God can turn it into something beautiful. If I am willing to be God’s hands and do His work, then He can elevate something routine into something extraordinary.

Even though we know better, we expect ourselves to be perfect. We expect our children to be perfect and for those around us to be perfect. But that just does not happen. The only one that is perfect is God and he created us “imperfect.”

But God does not make mistakes so doesn’t that make us “perfect?”

Yes – if we let God work with us through our imperfection then we can start to approach that level of perfection that is best exemplified by God’s love. Loving and serving each other is the greatest way to show our love for God. It is that simple.

So I want to encourage all of us to continue. Through all of life’s ups and downs – keep going. No matter what – don’t stop playing.


  1. Phil,
    What a wonderful story. Just what I needed to hear. I'm not a concert pianist, but I can do chop sticks. I just need to remember to play with a joyful heart.

  2. Thanks Tami. I know you are playing with a joyful heart!