Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Faith and Pianos

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  ~Hebrews 11:1

Faith is one of my favorite topics to study.  About 4 years ago, I felt prompted to study and learn more about the principle of faith, and how to "make it work" in my life.  I read a lot, prayed a lot, and began to understand better what faith actually is. Applying a true understanding of faith to my daily thoughts and actions changed my life.

Oftentimes, we use the words "faith" and "belief/believe" interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.  To have faith in someone or something is different from believing in that person or thing.  To have faith in God is different than just believing he exists.  Belief doesn't accomplish anything--it is a mindset, an opinion or conviction, that can influence your actions, but it is not requisite for belief to have anything to do with behavior.  

Faith, on the other hand, has everything to do with action/behavior.  The most valuable insights I have read are found in the Bible Dictionary and Joseph Smith's Lectures on Faith.  The Bible Dictionary says:

              "Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Heb. 11:1; Alma 32:21),    and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in him without reservation." (bold added)

All of us want a lot of things.  My entire life, I have always wanted to play the piano.  When I was young, my grandmother taught me how to play the accordion, which I mostly enjoyed despite the ready comparison at the time to a certain Coke-bottle-glasses-wearing, suspender-strutting, nerd-next-door from the Friday night line-up of primetime family television.  Accordion wasn't as cool as guitar, so when the same grandmother bought a guitar for my brother, I waited until his attention to the instrument waned and took it up myself.  I've been playing guitar for over 15 years, and my life has been blessed in incalculable ways from my love of the guitar.
The desire to play piano always persisted.  I've never had access to a piano of my own, which I always equated to being impoverished or deprived in some way.  Like I wasn't "high class" enough to have a piano, fueling some deep seeded insecurity.  When I got married and moved into our townhouse with my husband, I immediately designated a little nook by the stairs as the place where our piano would live.  I wanted that piano--I wanted to prove to myself that I could own a piano, and I would learn to play it, and play it well.

I refused to put any furniture in that space, even though it was painfully bare.  We put our Christmas tree there, but cleared it after the holidays.  The blank space was a constant reminder of what I wanted, and that I needed to work to get it.  I visualized our piano sitting there.  I imagined Kyle playing it on Sunday mornings.  I saw the framed pictures resting on its solid top, and heard beautiful music coming from its chest and filling our house.  I was "creating it spiritually", before I could see it physically.  I knew that just because I didn't have it right now, didn't mean it wasn't real.  My piano was somewhere out there in the world, I just had to figure out how to get it.

On Craigslist, there is a "free" section, and I checked it several times a week searching for a piano.  Hundreds came and went, in all different states of repair.  I jumped at a few, but was never able to connect and secure my piano.  Months went by.  At times I was discouraged, especially when  a particularly beautiful and healthy piano barely slipped through my grasp because of a miscommunication.  I checked into buying a new piano, but knew that, with a baby on the way, that expense would have to wait.  I was not deterred.  I knew that my desire was good, and the Lord would bless me if I was persistent and faithful.  I prayed to find a piano.  I knew the Lord cared about what I cared about.  I watched and waited.

"And now as I said concerning faithfaith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."  ~Alma 32:21

Prayers and faith are answered by our loving Heavenly Father every day, whether we recognize His hand in our lives or not.  Oftentimes they are so subtle and incremental that we don't notice He is leading us.  Sometimes they are huge and obvious.  

One day an ad popped up on Craigslist for an old baby grand piano that a man needed to get rid of because he was moving.  It was beautiful!--a far cry from so many free pianos that were no longer functional instruments.  I emailed immediately.  He said he got over 20 emails in the first hour his ad was up.  He responded to me first; he said he didn't know why, but he felt like I should have his piano.  In less than an hour, I made the arrangements to get a truck and a team to move the piano, which was a miracle by itself.  We drove to his house, he was kind and cool, we took the piano apart, loaded it in the truck, and drove it to my house.  We cleaned it meticulously, re-assembled it, and settled it in its little nook by the stairs.  It was a perfect fit.

"Seest thou how works wrought with his faith, and by works was faith made perfect?" ~James 2:21

To have faith is to hope for something, then work for it.  You then receive an assurance that your diligent work will result in the acquisition of the thing you hope for.  There is no reason to doubt.  Faith must not be limited by our expectations of time.  Time is irrelevant.  Time is up to God, whose time is different than ours.  (I am grateful I didn't have to wait too awfully long for my piano.)  I never doubted I would own a piano; nothing was going to stand in between me and the thing I righteously desired.  My faith became knowledge when I saw my beautiful instrument sitting in my living room.  The process had worked.

Bible Dictionary:

"Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements and/or heal the sick, or influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants (Jacob 4:4–7). Even more important, by faith one obtains a remission of sins and eventually can stand in the presence of God.  All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for." (bold added)

9/18/2012--6 weeks of piano lessons!