Uncomfortable Choices

We got up early to play handbells this morning. I liked the piece we played although I did have to “slip.” I didn’t know what this was  until a couple weeks ago, but “slipping” means that I have to move handbells from hand to hand. It wasn’t graceful but all the notes came out, more or less in time. (I admit, “slipping” doesn’t sound too good, especially in icy Minnesota in the winter. Perhaps “transferring?”)

The Call to Worship this morning was great. We meditated on Jesus’ journey into the wilderness, into hunger, doubt, and temptation, and responded accordingly. “As we begin our Lenten journey, let us also be led by the Spirit, even into the uncomfortable places… as we seek to follow Jesus, we would be led, even into the uncomfortable choices.”

I hope as this Lenten journey continues, that I will be open to going into those uncomfortable places and choices, to examining the truth of what I’m doing. Very often in music ensembles, and in life, I will follow the music. I will listen and find my entrances and exits through “feeling.” I find my way through the relationships between notes and melodies.

And very often, this does work. For example, after my sophomore year of college, I went to the CityLights urban ministry program in St. Louis because the director sent out an 11th hour recruitment email at a time that I had just been refused from a summer job. I felt like my question had been answered; I felt the call. Things fit together like puzzle pieces: their need, my availability. In music, I can usually figure out where I am supposed to come in just by listening and watching other people’s music without necessarily counting.

But many times, the easy way is not the right way. “Broad is the road that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). Actually I can’t think directly of a time I took the broad road and suffered for it, more of instances where the broad road was tempting and I was turned away. For example, a couple easier, more natural job opportunities during my “2 years of Lent” after college that I simply didn’t get.  Instead, I was a barista and CNA and grew a lot through those very different, challenging, interesting jobs.

In a similar vein… right now in our little church flute choir, we are doing a challenging piece where I cannot hear my entrance. I have to count, count, count (and math was never my strong suit). I can’t depend on “feeling” it yet to come in at the right time.

I suppose the difference lies in why the choice seems easy to me. Is it easy because that decision is in my comfort zone, before prayer and discernment? Is it easy because everyone else is doing it? Easy because it seems right with my earthly brain?

Or “easy” because God has been guiding me to that choice, by closing doors and windows, by having people whisper particular verses in my ear? Easy because he has surrounded me with teaching and guidance that make that the natural choice, the straight and narrow road that leads to Him?

God, help us face the uncomfortable choices and find the right road!

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