Racing faster than the fastest sprinter at the Olympics, my heart feels like it is about to overtake the rest of me. My mind begins coaching my heart. “Okay. Slow down! Pace yourself! Calm down now!” Even then, my heart obstinately decides to ignore my dire warnings and instead chooses to run like the wind.
With my heart racing like a speeding bullet, I sit there quietly, motionless on the piano bench … as still as a statue.
Hovering less than an inch over the piano keys in the “ready” position, my palms sweat uncontrollably. My brow, taking its cues from my palms, joins in on the exercise. A slew of conflicting emotions play within me. I am nervous. I am excited. I am anxious, fearful, elated, scared, overwhelmed!
All I know is this: I am here, now, about to put all of my hours, days, months and years of practice and preparation on the line for the very first (and if it doesn’t go well, possibly the last) time. Here I am … awaiting the defining moment of my life! It will either be a moment of sublime success or the moment of my deepest failure. Having lived all of fourteen and a half years up to this point, there has never been a bigger moment than now!
The silence swallows the room. Beyond the blinding stage lights, I know thousands of eyes are staring right at me. Positioned in the very front and center of the stage with a full orchestra ready to accompany me, I sit behind a grand piano awaiting the beginning count from the conductor’s baton. I lock my eyes with the eyes of the conductor. A silent nod in my direction signals the inevitable.
With tiny micro-movements of his baton, the conductor begins the count …
One … Two … Three … Four … (gulp)
During the early years of my life, there were few things that piqued my interest more than music. By the time I was five, if there was ever a stereo in the room, you would find me nearby. I’d take my family’s collection of records and play one after the other for hours on end. My parents, noticing my proclivity towards music, made the wise decision when I was a nineyear-old lad to sign me up for music lessons.
As I began taking piano lessons, I was amazed at how I could learn a song from hundreds of notes written on a page and play it myself. Instead of passively listening to music that came out of speakers, I could create music with my fingers! But not too long into the process, I learned that a large investment of practice time was also needed to grow in my newfound skill. Soon, coupled with the fascination of performance, came the fatigue of practice! Although I never wanted to give up on playing the piano, I sure wished someone would come up with an easier way to learn without such a large investment of time. I quickly learned that in order to grow and develop in my craft, I had to have a plentiful dose of good, old-fashioned discipline. So, because I loved playing the piano so much—and with the help of a few “gentle” nudges along the way from my parents—I practiced hour upon hour every week in order to become a better musician.
Through the process, I discovered the true joy of being able to master a piece of music and play it with a sense of confidence and enjoyment. Although the practice time required was quite extensive, I found joy in the journey. I often found myself, even during the commitment of practice, caught up in the pleasure of the music … to the point the time felt more delightful than dutiful. Sure, it was a discipline that oftentimes necessitated a good daily dose of gumption to get myself going; but once I was in it, I loved it and could never imagine life without it!
So here I was … at my “defining moment.” After years of seemingly unending practice and preparation, I was about to perform a Rachmaninoff piano concerto in front of the biggest audience my mind could imagine. (Since I couldn’t really see them past the lights, I could only imagine how many throngs of people were there.) After the conductor gave the opening four-count, with nervous fingers and a racing heart, I played with all my might. At the end of the performance, in the midst of the applause and with the greatest sense of accomplishment I had ever felt up to this point in my life, I once and for all settled this in my heart—every single moment of practice and preparation was worth it!
One day—very soon—we will all have the defining moment of our lives.
We will gather together from every nation and tongue, encircling the throne of God, offering our worship, our adoration, our love and our thanksgiving. We will sing songs and melodies more beautiful than have ever been heard in this life. We will sing, we will bow, we will shout, we will worship! We will behold the beauty of our Lord!
But until that day, we can have moments right now—every day of our lives—that prepare us for that moment to come … when we will worship our King forever. Each day, as we exercise the discipline of worshipping our King, we get to “practice” what we will one day get to experience for all of eternity. As we worship, we truly get a glimpse of the beauty of His holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29). And it is so much more delightful than it ever feels dutiful! Sure, some days are harder than others, but once we enter into worship, the pleasure and sheer joy of His presence displaces all the worries and fears this world brings.
A taste of heaven is waiting for you. Practice eternity today. Worship the King!
By Thomas Miller