I grew up in the home of a musician. I attended more concerts of choirs my father conducted and him playing the piano than I could begin to count. There is one, however, that stands out in my memory.
I was blessed to hear my father play the piano from my earliest memory. I used to enjoy playing a random note on the piano and being blown away when my dad could tell me precisely which note it was without looking. I listened to him practice and play -- I was very familiar with his style and the arrangements he played.
I am not exactly sure how old I was at the time, but I was somewhere around eight years old. At this particular concert, my dad was playing the piano, and after he finished, he came to the front and sat down by his family. He ended up sitting immediately to my left.
It is because I heard him play so much that this one particular memory has stayed in my mind. He had finished playing and came and sat down. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was not feeling antagonistic (not that I would have known what that word meant at age 8). I did not want to be frustrating. However, I simply was going to tell him something I observed.
I leaned over and whispered, "I heard you hit a wrong note on the last song." My father, without skipping a beat, immediately shot back, "Did you count the ones I got right?"
How great is that?!
He played thousands and thousands of notes that evening, and I pointed out the ONE he got wrong. You have to love kids! His reply, though, has stuck in my mind.
A brief admission...
Now, a word of confession is probably needed. I know my dad. He knew he hit a wrong note. And, although he prompted me to focus on what he got right rather than fixated on what he missed, I know him. He himself was more aware of the one he missed. That is just how professionals are.
His words to me were wise and helpful. "Count the ones you got right." This is NOT to say that we shouldn't strive to improve. Of course, we must learn from our mistakes and continually aim to do all we do to our utmost. We never want to stop learning or cease to improve. Making excuses or taking the easy way out will not honor the Lord nor help us.
Yet, don't forget to count the ones you got right. Moms, are there times you do not handle a situation with your child exactly as you should have? Of course. And, learn from those times, but as you do, don't forget to count the ones you got right. Dads, do you sometimes fail to listen as well as you should, or pay more attention to the television than you do your children? Probably so. And, we would do well not to repeat our past mistakes. But don't fail to count the ones you got right.
Life is hard, and we are continually reminded of our own weaknesses and limitations. Our frailties can be helpful as they keep us humble and dependent upon the Lord. Humility and God-dependence are both good things. Sometimes, though, we need to be reminded that God is, in fact, doing good things in our lives. The Lord is using His people in spite of our imperfections.
The world around you loves to remind you of your mistakes. Your enemies delight in your worst days. Hey, even sometimes those close to you get a good chuckle out of your messes. And to be sure, the devil would like nothing more than to keep you discouraged by never letting you forget your "wrong notes." But, don't forget to count the ones you got right.
To be more theologically precise, I should alter it slightly to encourage you to count the good things the Lord has done through you (i.e. the "right notes" the Lord has played through your life). We understand that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17). We know that even if the fruit of our hands has brought success, it is the Lord who gives the power to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). And it is clear that while we labor to prepare the horse for battle, victory belongs to the Lord (Proverbs 21:31).
So in conclusion, as you go through life, amidst all the struggles and pain, disappointments and failures, never forget to count the ones you got right. Be encouraged, Christian. "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). As a follower of Christ, you are not the sum of your failures; you are a redeemed child of the King.
So, let the world count the ones you got wrong...that's what the world does (and, apparently, eight year old sons!), but you count the ones you got right. And be quick to give God the glory for every "right note," for it is only by His grace that anything significant is done. Yet, by His grace, we can rest assured that He is at work in us and through us. Be encouraged. Yes, you may hit a few clunkers, but God is at work through His people!
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