I quietly open the door and ease into the small, cheerful music studio where my son, Jake, is finishing his lesson. His teacher is working on a strumming pattern and, intent on what he's being taught, Jake doesn't even glance my way as I sit in the corner.
His teacher is explaining something about the counts, and Jake, eager to try it, nods his head in understanding. Almost before his teacher finishes talking, Jake says, "Okay, let me try again." He's closer this time, but still not exactly right. His teacher again demonstrates and explains, and Jake, again nodding eagerly, begins playing almost before his teacher finishes speaking.
The student was eager. He loved the song and wanted to master it. He understood his teacher's instruction and didn't want to waste any time before giving it another try.
Because when you genuinely enjoy something, you're not content to simply nod in agreement, you naturally want to try it, do it, live it.
Practicing guitar is certainly not always that way for Jake. In fact, I have yet to meet any parent of a young music student who doesn't, at times, have to insist to their sighing, protesting child that they spend time doing what they're supposed to do. It goes without saying that there's great value in those times of practicing even when it's not enjoyable.
But there's something wonderful about seeing a student who loves what they're learning and is eager and excited to try again, to improve.
As I sat on that studio floor listening to a music lesson, I was aware there was a quieter lesson hidden inside the obvious one. Watching my son's eagerness, I thought about how true enjoyment often naturally unfolds into actual activity--into doing.
It's true in the arts, and it's true in life, isn't it? There is a relationship between genuine enjoyment and the activity it produces. To put it differently, when a student doesn't enjoy what they're learning, when they're indifferent to what they're being taught, when they're bored, detached, or wishing they were doing something else, they're likely to merely nod at the instruction and glance at the clock. Is this lesson over yet?
In the life of faith, as we listen to the instruction of our Teacher, enjoyment of Him brings activity. Every Christian I know has experienced both the enjoyment of Christ that leads to fruitfulness for Him, and also, at other times, experienced an indifference to Christ that bears little fruit. There are times when all I find myself doing is affirming the truthfulness of the instruction without enjoying the Person who teaches; there are other times when my heart is stirred and I genuinely know the joy of close fellowship with Christ.
There are times when I'm like that young student who can't wait to do it, who's excited to live out my faith and bear fruit.
Not just passive listening.
Not just nodding my head.
Not just agreeing with His teaching.
Not just, "Good sermon, Pastor," and then off we go, unchanged in how we live.
When we're walking closely with Him and know genuine enjoyment in the fellowship of His love, we live differently. We can't help it. It's intuitive.
Doing what is right becomes the natural unfolding of enjoying Him.
And when we're enjoying Him, it's so much more natural to not just be hearers but doers.
The Christian faith is both simple and complex all at once. There's rarely a simplistic or singular answer to the complex questions of why those of us walking in new life with Christ still struggle through seasons where we're dry and seem to be bearing little fruit. But once the complexities have been acknowledged, sometimes there are simple questions that bring helpful clarity. Here is one of those questions: Am I enjoying Him?
Because when we're enjoying Him, it's so much more natural to live for Him.