My youngest son has embraced his musical aptitude. He has learned the ukulele, guitar, and bass. Recently, we’ve started having occasional jam sessions. We’ll project the words and chords to songs on our TV and then play and sing together. I haven’t touched a guitar in about ten years. I’ve retained enough guitar and singing skills to lovingly butcher some of my favorite songs. Each jam session always seems to incorporate John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” And when we hit the chorus, it’s no holds barred in both strumming and harmonies.
I do a lot of reading and thinking about theology and spiritual formation. And I try to practice what I’m learning in loyal faithfulness to King Jesus. Frankly, I think my apprenticeship to Jesus is at about the same skill level as my guitar playing and singing. I know what it should sound like in my head, but what actually comes out falls short.
It’s easy to beat myself up over my failures in spiritual formation.
But then I think about my strumming and singing. When my son and I finish a jam session, my fingers hurt and my voice is strained. Slaughtered melodies linger in the air. But I never feel bad about my skills. I’ve had a great time! I love my son! I love playing guitar and singing with him. We sing and laugh through the cracked voices and inconsistent timing. It’s just fun being with each other.
So when I start feeling bad about my failures in my apprenticeship to Jesus, I try to remind myself of why I do it. I love Jesus! I love his presence and living life with him! I love the human vocation to bear his image into his good world and to be a positive presence for the good of others. And even when I stumble and falter and get in my own way, my attempts are my way of loving him with my heart, mind, soul and strength.
Having been a Christian for almost 30 years and intentionally practicing spiritual formation for over twenty years, I wish I were much further along than where I am. But I’m not following Jesus because I’m trying to master a skill or acquire a status. I follow Jesus because he first loved me and I absolutely love him! I follow Jesus because he’s everything to me and he’s leading me to the place of his likeness — genuine humanity as God intended for all of us. Our true home.
So who’s ready to lovingly butcher another chorus?
Country roooooaaaads! Take me hoooooome! To the plaaaaace! I beloooooong!!!!