Playing the guitar hurts

That is what I tell all of my new aspiring guitar students. After all, when you firmly press flesh and bone against wood and steel, one of them is going to give. It hurts, and there’s really no way around it. As the Dread Pirate Roberts once said, “Life is pain, highness; anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Here’s the thing though, the more you play, the less it hurts. Eventually callouses will form, hands and wrists adjust, back muscles strengthen. After a while you may not even notice it. But it still hurts, even after 25 years of playing. This is true of many things: farming, car repair, ballet, training for the Olympics, the list is endless. Just as anything worth doing is worth doing well, suffering and greatness often go hand-in-hand.

As we continue to look at the book of Acts, on June 29 we read the story of Saul becoming Paul. There’s one particular verse that hits hard whenever I read that passage. For context, Saul is on a mission to Damascus to hunt down and arrest followers of an upstart religious movement called The Way when he is blinded by a light and hears the voice of Jesus who asks why Saul is persecuting Him. Meanwhile, God speaks to a disciple named Ananias and tells him to get ready because He is sending Paul his way.

Here is the exchange between Ananias and God regarding Saul: “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:13-16)

That last sentence always gets me. Saul was God’s chosen instrument (which, at first glance, sounds like good news and a great honor), yet it meant that Saul would suffer as a result. A transformation was about to happen where Saul (the Pharisees’ instrument of fear and death) would become Paul (God’s instrument of good news for all people) and his life’s purpose would shift from causing suffering to suffering for a cause.

If you have served in the trenches of 938 over the last 3 years you know that church planting hurts. Just as Paul experienced suffering as he planted churches in Corinth, Galatia, and Ephesus, many of you have suffered to realize the vision of helping people find their way back to God here in West Chester. Your suffering has not been in vain. I am proof of that. The church you planted has continually been a source of blessing for me and my family — and that was even before I came on staff!

Playing the guitar hurts. Those who can see past the pain enjoy a life of music and song. Church planting hurts. Those who can see past the suffering will enjoy a future glory in God’s Kingdom — surrounded by the smiles of those they helped find their way back to God. As Paul said, I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

Today, it is my hope to remind you that church planting is worth it, suffering for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel is worth it, and, if you’re curious, yes — playing the guitar is definitely worth it.

- Your friendly, neighborhood, Walter