I have recently started teaching piano to a few of my younger siblings and several of my nieces and nephews. I am well aware that one of the hardest things to teach children on the piano is to follow the timing of a piece. To most children, including myself, the idea was to learn it well so you could play it fast. NOT to learn it well so you can play it slow. And rests? Those little symbols are not really serious about pausing mid-song, are they? Yet music composers do not flippantly slap rest symbols into the music, merely to annoy all those aspiring young pianists who play their music. No, they are used intentionally and with purpose.
A quiet, well-placed pause amidst a flurry of notes can heighten the impact of the notes around it and make a piece come to life. The timing and pauses are where the distinction lies between an amateur and a great pianist. Anyone can play the notes. Few will choose to play the pause.
I feel like our life right now is at a “rest” moment. The measures preceding have been rapid bursts of staccato notes – played fast, with little predictability. Then suddenly a pause.
We want to adopt, but due to circumstances beyond our control we must wait. We intend to homeschool, but Addy is still just a baby. Nathan would rather be in a different position, but it is not time to switch. We would like to live in a single-family house, but for now we hear the neighbors downstairs and share the yard. We know we are called to ministry, but for now Nathan is working on the schooling he needs to get there.
The question is, will we play the pause? We have been given an opportunity to rest from the last season and prepare for the next. Our daily lives have stabilized. Nathan has a job where he is gaining some experience in his field while finishing his degree. We have a steady salary. We are living near some family, in a decent house that fits us well. Though Addy is always changing, I am finally feeling like I am adjusting to being a mother. I am learning how to balance the different areas of my life and learning ways to be more efficient and effective in what I do in this season of life. We have time to enjoy our little family. We have people in our lives that we can minister to because of where we are right now.
We can strain ahead, trying to rush into to the next measure. Or we can enjoy the full count of this rest that God has given us. Right now, while there are no emergencies, no great trials, and little pressure – this is the time to tune our hearts to the still, quiet voice of the Spirit. We have nothing urgent pressing us against God. Nothing forcing us to our knees. Now is our time to gain a desire for who God is, rather than what he can do for us. To know he is near, even when all is quiet. To choose him, even in the stillness.
The thing about a pause is that it is not the end. The music is not over. There may yet be pages of music left to play. Any moment the next notes will come crashing in, breaking this silence; perhaps much sooner than we expect. But this pause, if played well, can usher the melody in with a deep expectancy. A readiness for whatever may come. Because we were given a rest and spent it within the abiding presence of Christ.
We can play this pause. Or we can miss it.