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Stop Screaming Into the Piano! John 14:6

July 3, 2013

Weird science experiment #427. Find a grand piano and open the top (Wisdom Alert! Make sure the prop is firmly engaged.). Now lean in and sing one note into the strings. Put some volume in it and sustain it for a few seconds. When you stop, listen closely. The vibrations of our voice will resonate with one string tuned to vibrate at the same frequency as the sound waves from our voice. The piano will play back to us the very note we sang into it. I know some of you will try this so remember the part about the prop. Pure science…but a dumb way to play the piano. Pianos are crafted to respond to keys levering hammers onto strings, one or more than one at a time. The vibrations, the sound, the music emanates from within instead of from the misguided antics of piano screamers.

Jesus, in John 14:6, worked through a trio of distinctives that marked this salvation into the Kingdom of God. Having looked at the “way” and the “truth”, Jesus said He was the life.  He meant far more than having breath and pulse. The sad irony lies in that many having both of those, the Bible describes as being dead (numb to His purposes because of being in rebellion against His person). When people came to Jesus, something came alive in them that birthed hopes and satisfactions beyond imagining into a dazzling convergence with the ordinary clay of their lives. They would endure persecution by enemies, rejection by friends and family, the looting of their stuff (Heb. 10:34) and not grimly but gladly and boldly. That something was “life”. 

We’re hardwired for this; theologians and other Latin geeks call it the “Imago Dei”, the image of God. We’re hardwired for relationship with God – intimate knowing and being known. God didn’t create humans for His amusement but to love and interact with us. The Genesis picture of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day speaks of intimate leisure as if this were an integral part of pre-fall life. Things changed quickly. We lost all sense of Who He was, God becoming a stranger. We became too busy fashioning gods out of our dulled imagination to mourn His loss.

We’re hardwired to be creative. God, if nothing else, is a Creator. He didn’t finish things on the sixth day and grab a lemonade on the porch. God can no more stop creating than we can stop breathing. All of creation pulsates with creative activity – the cosmos, the planet, our bodies, certainly the arts but also every enterprise to which humans put their hand (Things like the sciences and mathematics which we usually don’t think of in creative terms.). Whether to find solutions in work, exploring the unknown and especially for the sheer joy of doing it, creating is so much a part of what we do, we often do it without realizing it. A cool book by Matt Appling, “Life After Art: What You Forgot About Life and Faith Since You Left the Art Room” is a good place to start exploring this. David Esterly became the world foremost authority on late 17th century English woodcarving. An extensive fire in London brought his skills to the task of replacing a lot of destroyed and damaged wood from that time period. David Esterly describes the year it took where he questioned all his skill to its core and plumbed the depths of the question “What does it take to really make something well?” in his book, “The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making.”

We’re hardwired to think. Nothing is more powerful than an idea, nothing more destructive than an idea off the leash and nothing more beautiful and beneficial than an idea well-timed. God creates by the sheer power of His mind, no computer models or clay mock ups needed. Thinking produces change – in history, the human enterprise and our lives. It’s more than adding information, pouring facts into our intellectual dumpster. It can hurt, threaten our deepest secrets or most cherished beliefs and give tremendous satisfaction and enjoyment. Engaging mind evokes the pleasure of reading and satisfaction of problem solving. It sets afire a need or injustice to the point of action instead of just a sigh of momentary pity which quickly fades into apathy. We could argue whether the idea bites us or our mind bites into the idea. But the first time this thinking happens carves out a memory; we remember it even though the subject of thought may no longer holds us. And left untended in this broken world, it can either be left alone or unconsciously cause us to see the world and ourselves through fractured light. Greg Jao’s “Your Mind’s Mission”, John Stott’s “Your Mind Matters” and Steve Garber’s “The Fabric of Faithfulness” give good help.

We’re hardwired to love and be loved. Is there a deeper heart cry in the world? To be cherished simply as we are (actually in spite of what we are) with no fear that that love could fail or be lost. The lengths we go to trying to find this often leaves us more broken than before. And simultaneously both more desperate and despairing.

Every human being has these triggers of capacity and need. But we stubbornly insist that someone or something on the human plane (wealth and possessions, position, awards and achievements, a relationship or uneven series of them, legitimate leisure escalating into time-wasting escape, etc) can satisfy these longings.  The wrong finger is on the trigger. WE ARE SCREAMING INTO THE PIANO! The image of God in us wasn’t built for us to try to fill with our own feeble thunder. Only God can meet these needs; they all fit Him smoother than Cinderella’s slipper. To meet Jesus infused a spoonful of something that popped these things…to life. To meet Him crucified for our sin and risen from the dead makes them soar like an eagle. He Himself inside us through the Holy Spirit is that life. Without Him – shabby disappointing substitutes that leave us shabby as well.

Byron Borger has all the books mentioned here at Hearts and Minds Books. He’ll give you 20 % if you say you saw them here.

If you think this might encourage a college student or those who love them, then share, tweet, subscribe and all that social media stuff. If you’d like to see this on a regular basis, you can go something on Facebook called Geezer 1, a bunch of sharp cookies who love both students and those who love them. We’re an intellectual equivalent of Sherlock Holmes’  Baker Street Irregulars. You coming alongside would only make us sharper. Request to join or just shoot me, Dave Swartz, a friend request. And can be yours. Newbies buy pizza for the rest of the gang and a “Hot and Now” from Little Caesar’s won’t get it anymore. We’re getting sizeable and some of these people can pound it down.

Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you leave. See you next post at

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