Musical Rest

  • March 16, 2017
  • #9099

During times of sickness or frustration, God brings a rest into our lives so we may learn to grow closer to Jesus.    

Musical Rest

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada. And I used to love playing the piano.

Years ago when I was on my feet, when I had use of my hands, I used to love just sitting next to my older sister, Jay, as she would play on the piano in our living room. And when my mother saw me mimicking my older sister, she signed me up for lessons. Now, unlike most boys and girls who take piano lessons, I just loved it. I loved walking up the street every Tuesday afternoon after school was over, and entering the home of Miss Merson, my piano teacher. She was so very arty, a real bohemian for her day, very eccentric. But I loved the way she taught piano. And I loved the way she played, always with great emotion.

From her I learned all about the bass and treble clef, notes and time signatures, octave signs, breaks, and rests. Miss Merson explained how, in the middle of playing a piece, you pause. There is no music during a musical rest, but it is important in making the melody. A musical rest is necessary, she explained. It provides a necessary pause in setting the tone for the rest of the music. When I listened to Miss Merson play Rachmaninoff, or Chopin, and she’d come to a musical rest, her hands would arch, emotion would build, and the next stanza would be all the more beautiful for it.

Recently, I thought of Miss Merson when I came across an essay written by a Christian saint named John Rushkin. He said, “In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end of the song. God sends us times of forced rest by allowing sickness or disappointed plans or frustrated efforts. He brings a sudden pause in the chorus of our lives, and we lament that our voices have been made to be silent. We grieve that our part is missing in the music. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and places the next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there. God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged during the rests. They are not to be slurred over or omitted, nor used to destroy the melody or to change the key. If we will only look up, God himself will count the time for us with our eyes on him, and our next note will be full and clear. If we sorrowfully say to ourselves there is no music in a rest, let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is slow and painful in this life. Yet how patiently God works to teach us, and how long he waits for us to learn the lesson!”

Friend, that’s a great musical lesson! And the lesson is echoed in this beautiful poem:

Called Aside
From the glad working of your busy life,
From the world's ceaseless stir of care and  strife,
Into the shade and stillness by your  Heavenly Guide,
For a brief time you have been called  aside.
Called aside —
In hidden paths with Christ your Lord to  tread,
Deeper to drink at the sweet  Fountainhead,
Closer in fellowship with Him to roam,
Nearer, perhaps, to feel your heavenly  home.
Called aside —
Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him  alone;
In secret of His deeper love is shown,
And learned in many an hour of dark  distress,
Some rare, sweet lesson of His  tenderness.
Called aside —
O restful thought — He doeth all things  well;
O blessed sense, with Christ alone to  dwell;
So in the shadow of Your cross to hide,
We thank You, Lord, that we are called  aside.”

© Joni and Friends


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