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A joyful noise or an awful racket

Jimmy Cochran Columnist

  “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness and come into His presence with singing.” (Psalm 100:1-2)

  Yes, I have begun to take flute lessons. No, I probably should not. Yes, I am actually learning something. No, I tend to not practice like my teacher wants. Yes, I really like playing. No, I should never have steered away from piano. Yes, I am glad that David, the psalmist, used the phrase “make a joyful noise.”

  I was practicing the other night and was having continued problems with getting any type of clear and lucid tone in any upper octaves. My mom finally came to the door and informed me that I needed to stop before her ears began to bleed. Yes, it was pretty bad. So….when I have trouble with those high notes, I simply go back to that lower octave where I can whup out an awesome “Kum Ba Yah” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It’s so lovely, you feel all warm, fuzzy and spiritually blessed all at the same time.

  Bearing in mind that my sweet and patient teacher has degrees out the wazoo in flute and music, I’m happy she even puts up with my attempts to make music out of that skinny piece of metal. So, when I got to my lesson this week, my teacher patiently listened to my pathetic excuses and then as I attempted those high notes again, she kept thwacking my fingers so that I would put them in the right place. The more I played, the more I got thwacked until I finally began to catch on. And before I left, with bruised and battered fingers, I could actually produce an almost adequate high F. Adequate. Almost.

  Many of us will look at others and compare ourselves to their abilities and come up lacking. “I can’t pray as well as John, so why should I even try.” “Gosh, Rhoda is a great Bible teacher. I could never talk in front of people.” “I’ll never be able to sing better than Kathy, so I’ll just stand here during the hymns.” Before we know it, everybody we know does everything better than us, so we began to feel inadequate in our service to God. Or, at least, I have.

  The scriptures tell us that “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16). It doesn't tell us that you have to have a college or seminary degree in order for your prayers to be heard. Nowhere does the Bible say you have to use flowery language and big words in order for God to hear what you say. God will hear all your prayers; big words, little words, stammers, stutters and half-sentences. All He asks is that we do our best with what we have. That was the prayer that my parents taught me when I was just a boy…”Lord, let me do the best I can with what I have for Jesus’ sake today. Amen.”

  I may expect to play arpeggios in 12 scales and three octaves on the flute in just a couple months, but it ain't gonna happen. I struggle with one scale and one octave. But, God can be praised through my simple sounds on a flute if I am playing for His glory, just as He is when my very talented teacher plays for Him. I will never be as good as she, but God doesn't expect me to be. He just wants me to be me. Jimmy. Just as I am. Stinky flute player and all. So, don’t be hard on yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. You are who you are for a reason…..God’s reason. And He knows what He is doing.

  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


  Jimmy Cochran is a resident of McDonough, author, musician and minister.



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