Tune my heart to sing thy praise.
When you tune a guitar, you tweak each string, compelling it to adhere to the pitch for which it was intended. Coaxing the instrument into harmony. The strings are prone to wander – prone to slip from the perfect G4 of the top string to a flat F#4. The result? Discord. The sound is so wrong and without continual upkeep, the chords slip from harmonious cooperation to that ear-twinging , not cohesive mess.
We are instruments of praise for our father. But our hearts are continually out of tune. In order to play the sweet melody Jesus has in store, we must keep our pitch in line with His, our rhythm to His beat. In this sweet hymn that speaks to me through this line every time, I realize that “tune my heart” is a plea. We can’t tune our own hearts! He has to and He can because His son died the death we deserved to welcome us in to His courts of mercy.
Imagine a string on a guitar. Tuning is a gentle process of stretching the string until its pitch is just right – not a comfortable experience. As He refines us and stretches us to play the sound He has in store, it hurts. So many facets of our character desperately need refining and just when we think we’ve arrived, He reminds us that there are other strings, other pieces of us, that don’t reflect Him! We are constantly changing, stretching, striving to better sing His praise.
Even as the strings undergo the tedious process of tuning, they need a standard – a guitar tuner – to which to adhere. Second string from the top – the D4. It needs an example of the D4 so it can adjust itself to fit. Christ is our tuner, our example. As we are refined and stretched, we are altered to sound more like our father. “Lord I look to you – where does my help come from?” – another line from an Austin Stone worship song. Lord I look to you (Psalm 121:1). You are my help, my example, my standard of excellence. No, not excellence – perfection. For we are to be holy just as our father in heaven is holy.
It’s easy to let my fingers gush the romantic ideal of attuning our hearts to the standard of Christ in order to play the sweet harmony, the endless melody of the life of a believer. It’s much harder to live this out.
It’s easy to let my heart slip in to its traditional discord. When I am overwhelmed, it’s easy to shut down, to cry, to complain. When I am heart broken, it’s easy to cry, to respond in anger, to doubt my own value. When I have failed, it’s easy to cry, to give up, to convince myself that failing is a part of my identity. Tears are God’s sweet gift to humanity to let our body release this well spring of emotion that bubbles and bursts at any moment. But nothing compares to the gift of Him to let our heart release this endless vat of sin that robs us of life, livelihood, relationship with our daddy.
In the many moments when I am overwhelmed, I beg the Lord that He lead me to the rock that is higher than I(Psalm 61:2). I can’t get there on my own and the longer I let my heart strings slip from tune, the more painful their return to reflecting the sound of the Father.
So every day I have to choose. I have to choose to tune my heart. To start my day in the word of God. To lift up my heart aches and failures to my perfect father who cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). I have to choose to take thoughts captive that don’t reflect the Lord, to wad up these thoughts and throw them out of my heart, my head, my life (2 Corinthians 10:5). When the Lord rescued me from sin, He planted the sweet sound of perfect harmony in my heart through the spirit, and in my hands through the word of God. He has given me the tools to tune my heart to sing His praise and He will finish His work (Philippians 1:6).
It’s a daily choice, though. A daily choice to die to myself. A daily choice to put to death the mood swings that plague me, the obsessive thoughts that pester my mind like gnats, the lies that Satan plants in my life that I water when I ruminate on them. Sometimes Satan just needs a good punch in the face – and scripture is the perfect vehicle for that. The sweet sound of harmony in the Father is the sound of Satan’s defeat – which he hates. But scripture is the perfectly-tuned truth that sounds the victory of Christ.
It’s not going to be easy – to get in the fight. A tuned guitar on the wall is naught but decoration until it’s played. Until its strings are picked over, squashed by fingers and capos. This is what happens when we get off the bench and in to the game – when our hearts are tuned we have to sing His praise – get to sing His praise. Speak truth – to ourselves, to others. Serve well – selflessly, patiently. Rest wisely – refreshing, renewing. Live radiantly – reflecting His righteousness. Beat the tar out of injustice, complacency, and lies.
I’m choosing, in this moment, to tune my heart to sing His praise. To write of His victory and mercy instead of wallowing in self-pity or dwelling on Satan’s ploys to steal my heart from my betrothed, from Jesus. The day I realized He had my hand and was never letting go, He sealed me with His blood and I can’t be lost from His kingdom. I can, however, stumble. But with continued time in His presence, His word, His mission, I train myself in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). I tune my heart to sing His praise.