I must admit something: I have been lax in my playing of guitar. I’ve been taking lessons on and off for a number of years but haven’t taken lessons since 2017. I have been playing guitar though since and had been keeping up with my practicing. And then for some reason, I just stopped. I don’t know why but I did. I just stopped. It was casual stop. It was a stop that I just didn’t realize I really stopped doing. I just did. Then the other day, I looked at my guitar and realized how I hadn’t played it for a while. I picked it up and strummed it a bit. It was way out of tune, I wasn’t sure how but it was. I decided to try to tune it a bit. But my ear couldn’t make out the notes correctly. My ear wasn’t in tune with the guitar. I tried to do some blues licks I knew, but I couldn’t remember the exact finger placement. It had been too long. I didn’t know my guitar.
This morning, as I was doing my devotions, I came to Acts 10. In this chapter, Peter is on top of a room praying (they could do that back then because they had flat roofs and people did stuff like that a lot). As he was praying he went into a trance. In his trance God showed him in a vision a variety of different animals. Peter was told to kill, eat. Peter said he couldn’t because they were unclean. God then said to him that He declared them clean (Acts 10:15). Peter came out of the trance he was in. As he did, three men from a centurion (a Roman military leader), came for Peter because an angel had told the centurion (named Cornelius) to go find a man named Simon called Peter who would be at this house in Joppa (trippy). Peter went at once (brave dude).
Here’s the thing, Cornelius the centurion was what was called a God-fearing person. In the Roman world, you could worship any religion you wanted to as long as you gave kudos to the emperor as supreme leader. There were some Romans (the ones who were occupying Israel at the time) who began following the Jewish religion. They were called God-fearing people. This is who the centurion was. But he too had a vision and the angel in the vision told him to call for Peter. Being a Roman, he wanted everyone to come hear what Peter had to say.
When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ home, he saw it packed to the gills. Filled with people eager to hear what this Jewish man had to say. It struck Peter, his vision of God saying not to make unclean what He declared clean applied right to this situation. To the Jewish person at that time, you didn’t hang out with non-Jewish people, especially Romans. And Peter was a follower of Jesus. At that time in the Book of Acts, people were still trying to figure out how to follow Jesus. And now, here is Peter being asked by a Roman to explain the Gospel message. All connected together.
And the kicker? Peter explains the Gospel message to all the people there and they were baptized. Becoming Jesus followers and changing their lives. Peter went against centuries of culture in order that these Romans too could be part of the Kingdom of God. Sweet.
But what does this have to do with my guitar playing or lack there of?
To be honest, as I reflected on Peter’s vision, I wondered if I would have been able to hear God’s voice. I wondered if I would have been able to discern God’s words and instructions. In tuning a guitar by ear, there are so many distractions. So much competing noise that you need to listen for that particular note. Now, I also like to use a Snark tuner which clips on to the guitar, but still, you need something to help pay attention. Peter had centuries of tradition and culture screaming at him. All this noise telling him not to go to Cornelius’ house. In fact, he even says that he really shouldn’t be there (Acts 10:28) but that God has declared it that he should. All because he listened past the noise to hear the true tune and notes of the one true God.
It makes me wonder. How often do I allow the noise to get in the way of listening to God’s voice in my life? How often do I allow the noise to get in the way of tuning my heart to God’s desires? In fact, how often do I just casually stop paying attention at all and just don’t realize it?
Sometimes I think we wish that God would just speak. You know, a voice from the heavens, the clouds part, the sun shines, and God speaks (not like Monty Python though). During this pandemic, we could sure use something like that. But then I began to wonder, would we even hear His voice? Have we casually stopped paying attention?
As I do my devotions, I pray and listen. I want to hear God’s voice. I want to hear God’s leading and direction. I want to actively be a participant in the Kingdom of God. I so want to be an active Jesus follower. I strain to do so. Maybe I’m too hard on myself. I might be. I just so want to hear God’s leading in my life so I can faithfully follow Him in His kingdom work.