My mother was driving me to my weekly Saturday morning guitar lesson. For the past few months, I had been taking classical guitar lessons and I was enthralled by the instrument. My parents were grateful for my enthusiasm since they were the ones who suggested I learn a musical instrument and encouraged me to learn the guitar.
My mother would usually drop me off and shop at the nearby dry goods store while I had my lesson. This time, she joined me as we walked to the studio together. Curious, I asked her, “Why aren’t you shopping?”
My mother flashed a whimsical smile and said, “Oh, I thought I would sit in your lesson and see how you are doing.”
“Great!” I exclaimed. “I have been working on that etude, you know the one you liked when you first heard me play it?”
“Yes, looking forward to hearing it!”
We entered the studio and were greeted by my teacher who was seated, surrounded by three classical guitars. A paternal figure who dressed in long sleeve silk shirts and polyester pants, he definitely stood out from most Hawaiian natives. His silver eyes twinkled and his soft voice was a perfect mate for the soothing classical music he was teaching me. He was engrossed in playing one of the new guitars, deftly articulating and coaxing the nuanced tones from the instrument.
“Now this one sings.” He plucked a few more notes. Carefully placing it back in the open case, he reached for another guitar. “But this one…it sounds almost as good as mine!” After playing it for a few seconds, he turned and handed me the guitar. “Here, see what you think!”
I had never handled or played a new guitar. The guitar I began on was a discarded relic from my older cousin, gathering dust in his closet. I did not know any better and was happy to simply learn to play the instrument. I nervously held the highly polished wood and ran my fingers across the new strings and ebony fingerboard. The smell of cedar was intoxicating. I strummed a few chords and plucked a few notes. The sound was much louder and clearer than the guitar I was currently playing. It was amazing! My mother noticed my beaming face and asked me, “So son, what do you think?”
“It’s great!” I plucked a few more notes. “Really beautiful!”
My mother looked at my teacher and gushed, “It’s for you!”
My teacher joined in. “Your parents are very happy with the progress you have made and they know you really enjoy playing the guitar. Your birthday is next week, so they asked me to pick out a new guitar for you, one that will allow you to become a better player.”
I was elated!
“Happy birthday, son!”
I had made a good start on the loaner guitar but my parents knew that if I were to progress, I would need to have the proper equipment. They were so right. That new guitar invigorated my interest which has never abated. Nearly fifty years later, I still have that guitar. Whenever I take it out of its case and strum its strings, a wave of gratitude envelops me, acknowledging my parent’s foresight. It is a beautiful metaphor of how my Heavenly Father takes care of me.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
John 15:1-2 (ESV)
There are many possessions and habits that I have stubbornly clung to, ignorant that it was hindering my spiritual growth. Like the old guitar I was playing, God has pruned my life of these obstacles, allowing me to progress and flourish under His supreme providence. And like my parents, God does this without my asking, simply to allow me to further delight in His grace and mercy.
What an amazingly loving God who does this for all who place their trust and faith in Him!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.