Surrender. What a hard word.

For some reason God has been bringing this word up in my life multiple times this past week, this past month, even this past semester. And each time it comes up, I am convicted yet again. Lord, I need to surrender. It seems that there is no end to the things that I hold on to, the people, feelings, ideas, fears... all the different things I try to base my identity on.   

And these last couple of weeks, it has been my hands.

I posted awhile back about how my hands were hurting, and how difficult that was for me. Well, this week, I got a whole new perspective on that. I've been learning that when you surrender, you must be willing for the thing you're surrendering to die, to be killed, and possibly taken from you forever. As soon as I heard this, I thought of my hands. Would I be willing to surrender them to God - assenting completely to His will, even if that meant I could never use them again?

It's a hard thought. But it brought me to realize just how much I've been basing my worth on my hands and my ability to play piano. Yes, I know that I'm a child of God, and my worth and identity should be based off of that. But subconsciously, I re-phrased this. I would think: I'm a child of God - who plays piano. In my mind, my identity was wrapped up in both of these ideas. If either one of them was not there, I wouldn't be me.

What a wrong view of myself I had!

Remember that picture I have at the top of this post? There's a story and a meaning behind it. That was the view I saw one night when I just really wanted to be alone and talk to God about the things that I needed to surrender to Him. The only place I could think of to truly be alone was in a practice room. I turned the light off and sat on the floor behind one of the grand pianos, hoping that I wouldn't be seen by anyone outside. And there I poured my heart out before my God. I prayed aloud (thankfully, those practice rooms are mostly soundproof), and listed each thing that I knew I must give over into God's hands. Even if I never got them back.

This is what I have done this week with my hands. They are God's now, to do with what He will. My piano-playing ability is not what defines me. Only God is.

And you know what's so amazing?

As soon as I surrendered my hands over to God, He gave them back. He has been strengthening them daily, and at the same time giving me joy and peace that passes understanding. And now, passing through this time of testing, I can see my God so much clearer. My life, in even a small way, is that much more focused and centered on my God and Creator.

That, my friends, is the real reason for surrender. Even if God doesn't give the thing you've surrendered back - the goal of it all is to become more like Him. And that is what I'm striving to pursue each day.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship." ~Romans 12:1


The Second Inkling - Spending to Fulfill

I'm sorry for the break between inklings! It seems that not even inklings of ideas are coming to me easily nowadays. :P

Thankfully, I'm reading a number of inspiring books which have some good quotes. For my Christian Life & Thought class, I'm reading a book called "Engaging God's World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living" (by Cornelius Plantinga Jr).The book is excellent in my opinion, and full of good quotes. So this is my inkling for you this week (taken from chapter 2 of the book):

"According to God's intelligence, the way to thrive is to help others to thrive; the way to flourish is to cause others to flourish; the way to fulfill yourself is to spend yourself." (Plantinga, ch. 2, p. 23)

So what is your take on this? How do you live this out, see this in others, apply it to life, or any other take you may have on this...?

Please don't feel like you have to write an incredibly "deep" post from this inkling - simply go off of  what this inspires in your mind, or something else this reminds you of. I'm interested in hearing what inklings you come up with!

Also note: since I started this linkup on Thursday, I'm going to run it to a week from this Tuesday, which is March 1st. So you have plenty of time to link up!


Your Right Hand

I've been having a lot of pain recently. Last Thursday I had a migrane, and over the weekend my arms and hands have been experiencing pain and just overall weakness. I've only practiced piano for about an hour all together since last Thursday. (To put this in perspective, I would normally practice about 2 hours a day, which would have been 8 hours total this weekend.)

Today, while my hands weren't experiencing sharp pains, they did get tired super quickly. After only about 15 minutes of practicing, they were dead beat and worthless.

When I can't play piano, I feel awfully useless.

And yet - God provides! He brought this verse to my attention tonight, and with it tears of joy and comfort:
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. ~Isaiah 41:13
 When I saw that verse, my eyes filled with tears. It is my right arm especially that is hurting. I felt as if God was saying to me: "I am the Lord, Melody, I am your God. I will take hold of your right hand - yes, the one that is hurting - and quiet your fears. No matter how long it may be weak or what may be wrong with it, I will be here. I will help you."

After all, God does say in verse 10 of the same chapter:
So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

So, I will trust my Father. I will put my poor, tired, weak little hand in His big, strong, warm one, and let Him take care of it. Isn't His right hand so much stronger than mine anyways?

Just to let you all know, I've talked with my piano teacher and my chiropractor about my hands, and they think it's muscle strain. So it probably isn't anything serious; I just have to rest them for a little while. 


An Unlikely Movie

I love to play the piano pieces I'm working on for my friends (especially non-music majors). It's surprising how often I'll learn new things about the piece or about how I play, just by performing it for them.

So one night a couple weeks ago, I was playing a Beethoven piano sonata that I had been working on for a group of friends. The piece is slow, dark, and very dramatic, just like a melodrama or tragedy. So I asked my friends to listen to it like the soundtrack to a story.

When I was done playing, the room burst into sound as my friends all began talking about the stories they had created in their minds from the music. At first they were talking about something like Les Miserables or something along those lines, and then we started modifying it to be about a princess. I don't remember who it was, but someone suggested, "Why don't we make a movie out of this?"

And we're going to do it. Yeah, we're college students with not much time, and yes, we're not theater majors or incredibly awesome actors (at least some of us aren't). But we do have imagination, some legit costumes, and lots of motivation. (And plus, we came up with a pretty awesome name for our "movie company:" ERRonious Productions. Like us on facebook!)

It shall be a silent film in black & white or sepia, with only the piano music as the soundtrack. And yes, it is a tragedy. It's about the trials of a princess who is faced with a dying father, an evil Aunt, and some poison.

Here's the piece, so you can hear for yourself. What kind of story do you hear from this?


An Inkling's Worth

I love inspiration. When it hits me, like that magic ray of sunlight shooting out of nowhere into my brain, it gives me such joy.

But you and I know that inspiration doesn't hit us every time we want it to. Especially when the weeks are crazy, and weekends even crazier. Or if we do get that burst of inspiration, it often only amounts to a small idea, a short phrase or quote that would take a lot more thought to flesh out into a blog post.

In walks this meme, to save the day.

I call it, "An Inkling's Worth." Each Tuesday I will post an interesting quote, phrase, idea, or story. Then it's your turn: from that Tuesday to the next, you can use my "inkling" of inspiration to spark your own blog post about the same idea, post another "inkling" for others to build off of, or use it to springboard your creativity in any way you can come up with. The possibilities are quite limitless!

A simple way to get your (and my) creative juices flowing. And who knows what we might come up with!

Mine for this week is:
When something does not go according to plan, it's God's way of reminding me that it's His plans, not necessarily my own, that ought to be the highest priority in my life.
Now it's your turn. What inklings of ideas does this stir around in your brain? Link up and let us know!


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