I Can’t Hear the Harmony…

May 4, 2016

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

– Matthew 16:21-23 (NIV)

I come from a family of musicians., but I’m not one. My little sister went to college on a music scholarship and teaches music today. My younger brother sang in all sorts of musicals and in the high school show choirs. But not me. In fact, I rarely even listen to music on the radio, preferring to listen to talk shows or baseball games. Despite singing in youth choirs and having taken piano lessons as a boy, I am not a musician.

But I have to be honest, while I’m not a musician —I really enjoy singing the old hymns of the church.

Now, I know that’s not the “IN” thing. I know that the church has been engaged in music wars probably since its inception (Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me that an underlying tension between Peter and Paul was not just the issue of circumcision but which style of worship music each preferred! I suspect Peter was the Contemporary Guy while Paul was Traditional or Classical.), I still like to sing the old, “southern” hymns that I grew up with in church.


A part of the reason for this is that I do know the melody of most of these hymns and can still sing them relatively well and easily. There’s nothing better than having a group of people singing a favorite hymn—Amazing Grace or It is Well. How about the classic Easter hymns – Up from the Grave and He Lives. And let’s not forget the Christmas hymns and carols –   Away in A Manger and O Little Town of Bethlehem. And even the revival hymns like Just as I Am or I Surrender All.

All of these hymns I know and can sing the melody line. All of these hymns, (and many others if I am honest) if I absolutely had to do so, I could stand up and lead them before a congregation. I know them well enough that I can “hear” the tune of the melody and can sing the words confidently and boldly. And some I know well enough that I can even hear some of the harmony line. But that’s what sets me apart from good musicians like my sister and brother. I can’t hear the harmony line in my head. And if I can’t hear it, I can’t sing it. So I continue to sing the melody line, no matter what. I am unable to compliment the melody; I can only be complimented.

Now, I don’t know whether this is something that is learned or is natural (a little of both I suspect), but the other day it occurred to me that this is somewhat similar to the problem I have in my Christian walk. You see, when it comes to my walk with Jesus, I always want to sing the melody…to take the lead. I haven’t learned how to step back, let Him lead and to harmonize with His music, I want Him to harmonize with mine. And frankly, my melody line is not all that attractive.

This seems to be the same problem Peter had when he first confessed Christ as Savior. I wanted on the one hand to acknowledge Him as Lord (the one who would lead the melody), but then refused to try to harmonize his plans, hopes and expectations with those of Jesus. How often and for how many of us is that the issue as well? We want to make beautiful music with Christ, but we want to lead. We are either unable or unwilling to hear and to follow the harmony line!

Prayer: Lord, teach me to hear the harmony line in my walk with you. Let my actions and my service compliment that which you are already doing in this world and allow me to always give you the glory. Amen.

Steve 2014

Reverend Dr. Steve Van Ostran

Executive Minister


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