A small-town sidewalk deep in the smoky mountains, with the hand of my precious bride in tow, we dipped in and out of mom-and-pop antique shops after breakfast at the local cafe’.  As my wife sat in at the quilting shop, one of the ladies suggested I step next door so they could “talk.”  The front door creaked unveiling a hand-full of guitars on the wall and a prized Les Paul under glass. At the far end stood an older gentleman, long grey beard, and dusty overalls. It is said if you find an old man on the porch, cutting apple slices with a pocketknife, you might want to stick around and hear what he has to say. This was one of those times.

The man offered a kind greeting while changing strings on an old guitar. He asked if I played and the safest response was, “a little.” You never know when you are in the presence of a master and they hand you an instrument and say, “Let’s see.” I have found myself in impromptu jam sessions where my lack of talent was way too apparent and “a little” was about right.

He asked about my guitars, and I knew make and model, not top of the line by any means, but nice. I asked what brand he preferred, and he said, “Son, makes little difference.” He reached behind the counter and pulled out an old handmade guitar he was fixing so it would hold tune. He held up crooked fingers with surgery scars from when he used to play. He grabbed a pick and tore into some nasty bluegrass. Yeah, he “used” to play. “Wood and strings are just tools. The music’s up to you.”

Memories resurfaced of an empty chapel, no lights, no amplifiers, pouring my heart into an old upright piano, slightly out of tune with a chipped ivory or two. Way too appropriate yet comforting at the same time.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 ESV/NIV

If you pass by a chapel and hear a piano gently weeping or sit in church as I play nothing and everything, pause and listen, for there is music with groanings too deep for words.

“Son, makes little difference. Wood and strings are just tools. The music’s up to you.”

If these words have been a blessing, pass them along to another who needs to hear. Reach out to me at John@LiftedKeys.com and tell me your story. I would love to know where and in what way God has guided His words through my pen.

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