“I know how to tell the difference between a slur and a tie!” my young piano student declared, moments after learning what ties are for the first time.
Skeptically, I asked, “You do? How?”
“A slur is always higher than a tie,” pointing to his music. (For those who care, his piece had slurs in the treble clef and ties in the bass clef.)
“Well, it’s like that here,”—I tried to be gentle—”but sometimes a tie is higher.”
“Ok! Well,” he continued confidently, “a slur is always longer than a tie.”
I pulled out a music book sitting beside me, again showing him he had more to learn about slurs and ties.
He wanted so much to keep trying to prove he knew what he didn’t actually know. But if I had let him keep going, the time would’ve run out on his 30-minute lesson before he could learn the difference between a slur and a tie.
“I’ve seen a lot more slurs than you,” I said, “and I’ve seen a lot more ties than you. So let me show you how you can tell the difference between the two.”
How often do we think we’ve figured out faith and God after we’ve learned or experienced some things? Our minds naturally try to sort new information into categories and patterns, but when we reduce things to patterns or formulas, we miss out on the infinite more. We stop seeking, studying, experiencing, pushing forward, digging deeper. We get satisfied—proud even—with our small picture of God. We think we’re wise and mature when really we’re just stuck in an existence void of awe and wonder.
We often live out our faith on auto-pilot and neglect to leave space for the years to pour into us more learning and experience, for the wisdom of others to refine us, and for God Himself to reveal to us a bigger picture of who He is and what He can do.
Sometimes the way God works is like simple arithmetic. Sometimes the way He works is like the Fibonacci sequence, opening us up to a world of wonder. And sometimes His ways are too abstract or messy or wild for us to reduce to a formula any human can fully comprehend or imagine.
All the while, God is daily beckoning us to sit with Him and humbly listen. “I’ve seen more than you, and there’s still more for you to see. Let me show you.”