Monday, August 16, 2004

Marching in Step

Oh my goodness....this is take V (at least) for this post. Four times, blogspot lost it, and once it disappeared as I was trying to "select all" so that I could copy it just in case blogspot was going to lose it again. Sigh....well, it's gotten a little better each time, so maybe that's the purpose behind this. Still frustrating though!

Anyway, Saturday night in house "club," we were studying the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) and a few verses beyond when I was struck by the NIV wording of Gal. 5:25:

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Coming from a marching band background (four years in high school, and two in college), this phrasing was especially poignant to me and made me realize how similar marching in a band is to the walk of a believer. Let me explain my metaphor. When you are a new marcher, it's often very difficult to stay in step with those around you. The most common method of doing so at that stage in your development is to look to the feet of those around you (and hopefully they're more experienced than you) and follow their lead. After a while though, you discover that you're relying less and less on other people's feet, and more and more on your newly-acquired "natural" instincts and on the music.

The walk of a believer is very similar to this. At the beginning, you look mostly to the lives of others around you to see how you should walk, but as you mature in your faith and understanding, you begin to rely less on their examples and more on your own knowledge and on the leading of the Spirit (which corresponds in this illustration to the music).

In a band, you've always got your particular section around you (the flutes in my case, but it corresponds to the small body of believers with whom you most closely associate - your Sunday School class, your cell group, a prayer group, etc.), and the other sections come and go as the show progresses. Sometimes you're close to the drum line (who provide a strong beat for you to follow), but sometimes they're far away. Sometimes the only feet nearby are those of that one baritone player who can't keep time to save his life and who, even after years of being in band and, you know, just living, has yet to learn his left from his right. He doesn't even play most of the time, he just holds his instrument and tries to look like he's playing his part. Sometimes the "A" side is out of step with the "B" side. Sometimes you have 24 counts to go from the 40 to the 5 while sustaining a note on your piccolo (wait...that really happened... ;p ).

But in any case, when you first begin, it's difficult to keep in step with those around you, and to stay in your proper formation, but as you mature in your faith and understanding, it gets easier.

Imo, the most interesting aspect of this illustration is that the individual marchers never get to see the "big picture" until after the show is over. They might know that at a given point they're supposed to be in a straight line or a curve, but it's only the judges in the press box and the directors who get to really see the whole show as it's meant to be seen.

You could even say that the judges (who judge your performance) and the senior director (who sits in the pressbox during rehearsals) are like the Father. The assistant director is like the Son because He came down to the "field" with the marchers to show them the way, but ends up in the press box with the senior director. The music, which is pervasive in all aspects of the marcher's walk, is like the Spirit since He's there with you, guiding you, even when the directors seem far away.*

All you preachers out there are welcome to use this as a sermon illustration sometime, just let me know because I'll think it's funny. :)

* Some might argue that the drum majors should represent the Spirit in this illustration, but if you've ever marched in a band, you know that no one ever really watches the drum major. ;p

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