What's Inside

The theological ramblings of a simple man.

Wisdom

Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.

Dean Koontz



"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Broken Guitar Strings
There are six strings on most guitars. In a standard tuning, plucking a string will produce one of five notes: e, a, d, g, or b. The last string is also an e – only a couple octaves higher. That string is the thinnest string and is most prone to snap.

Breaking that high e string is not a fun activity while playing. I’ve had one strike my cheek, leaving a small welt. The g and b strings are also a thinner gauge and easy to break if you’re not being careful. From there the low e, a, and d strings are thicker and more difficult to break.

When a string is severed, the player loses the capability to make music the same way that they would under normal circumstances. Some chords would come across flat or hollow; others sound atrocious. Great guitarists can be creative enough to work around the missing string, but most will continue doing what they’re doing as if nothing happened.

Strings snap for various reasons. They wear out, or they could be stretched the wrong way while tuning. And sometimes it’s a result of playing style or intense strumming.

Our church’s worship pastor broke the g string on his guitar a while back. His facial expressions betrayed the unplanned event, and there was instantly a noticeable difference in the sound of the song he was plying.

Several years ago, my roommate Drew had a run of bad luck with guitar strings. The first string to break was the d string on his guitar. Broken d strings are not common. He borrowed Tommy’s guitar and proceeded to break the d string… again. Then he borrowed Shawn’s guitar, breaking yet another d string. He finally finished the night with my guitar (graciously returning it with all strings intact).

What are the broken strings in our lives? Divorce or broken relationships? Addiction and substance abuse? Unemployment? Financial troubles? Cancer? There are so many things that can go wrong in our lives; it’s easy to wonder how our lives became so broken.

The causes of brokenness can be divided into two categories: a product of happenstance or the result of our own doings.

It could be like our worship pastor. Nothing you are doing wrong. It is just a matter of circumstance. It was bound to happen. There are conditions that are beyond your control. They just happen, and your heart strings are broken.

It could be like my old roommate. You’re doing something wrong. And it’s not just a mistake; you keep doing the same thing the same way with the same result. You do nothing to fix what’s broken. You’re stuck in this circle where you’re heart strings are busted yet you have direct control over how it happens.

We all fall into one of those two categories. Everyone makes mistakes. And bad things happen.

Yet there is a danger in our tendencies to lean toward one or the other. We risk further failures in the assumption that all of our brokenness is of only one cause.

If we assume that everything that goes wrong in our lives is a result of random happenings and that it is all beyond our control, we become a victim. We do nothing to resolve our damaged lives. We might say that God will save us, but only as a matter of faith without deed. As nothing is resolved, we continue to carry a weight of disappointment, hurt, and hopelessness. We may begin to believe that God hates us or blame him for all our problems.

On the other extreme, we could act as if we are in control of every aspect of our lives. Since we are the direct cause of every wrong in our lives, we are solely responsible for the reparations. Our egos thrive when times are good, but we crash in failure. Our need for control excludes the possibility of a power greater than ours. We lose any need for God.

We either view God as the villainous cause or our woe, or powerless to help. We fail in our refusal to do anything or our demands to do everything.

We lack balance.

Bad things will happen. We know that. From natural disasters to the crumbling economy, from our own pride to our mistakes; we live in a fallen world.

I’m not proposing a cure all method to insulate you against a broken world. There is no way to prevent your heart strings from breaking. Just like guitar strings. My friend Steve washes his hands before playing the guitar, and polishes the strings after he’s done. Another friend of mine replaces his strings weekly. Neither method works 100% of the time. Strings still break and need replaced.

The question should be how we fix our strings. Do we take the time to discover the cause of all the achy parts? When things fail, we need to honestly examine the root cause. Was there something you could have done to prevent whatever happened? Then change your ways. Correct your actions. Was it completely beyond your control? Then rely on God to fix what went wrong.

And in all things learn from your experiences.
posted by nicholas casey @ 8:51 PM  
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