When our son Taylor was about fifth grade he wanted to learn to play the guitar. Once I got him past the five basic chords I knew we decided to hand him over to a teacher.
We took him to a professional teacher who had a very upscale studio. There he learned songs like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” He didn’t like playing that on his electric guitar. He was the only student who had an electric. The others played entry-level acoustics. So when recital night came they all played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” together plus “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” When it came time for each of them to play their individual songs most of the kids just replayed what they had played as a group.
Not Taylor. He played “Wipe-Out.” The other dads woke up from their slumber. There was stirring in the room. Grown men were holding up their phones like lighters. I heard them say, “Cool!” “Whose kid is that?” I sold T-shirts and CD’s after the recital.
But it wasn’t until we found John that the guitar learning took off. John came over to our house for the first lesson. Without any fanfare he pulled out some of his gear and put a pedal on the floor.
He asked Taylor, “Do you know what this is?” “No” came the reply. “It’s called a Cry Baby. Let me show you what it does.” John took Taylor’s electric guitar, plugged it in, and let it rip. He bent notes like a contortionist showing off his flexibility. Taylor’s eyes lit up.
John said, “You try it.” He did. It didn’t go as well as when John did it. But he was hooked. John said, “You want to play it like I did? Then practice what I teach you and in about three months you’ll be playing like that.”
Taylor needed a vision of what he could be and a plan to get there.
Maybe you do too. Not for guitar. But for life. In the New Testament book of James the writer does for us what the guitar teacher did for Taylor.
- First he gives us a vision: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” he writes. The phrase “brought forth” can be translated “gave birth.” James says God birthed us to be his children who look like him.
- Then James follows the vision with a plan: “… receive the implanted word.” There is a way to “receive” the implanted word. The word “receive” means to “absorb” or “surrender to.” Crucial to everything that James will say is how he says we receive the word: we hear it and we do it.
If James had been marketing his teaching he would have drawn a swoosh and written the word poietes under it: “Doer.” The word is the same word we get “poet” from. You look like a child of God when your life creates a song by doing the things he would do. You see, looking at the word informs us. But doing the word transforms us.
Your goal may not be to make music with a guitar. But you were made to make music with your life. Start strumming some notes today.
Question: Who is it you want to look like as a person? What is your plan to get there?