Grace For Bad Singers And Broken Instruments

It seemed like a good idea. But, like most ideas that one comes up with in the 5th grade, this one didn’t go as planned.

We were auditioning for the school chorus. To me and the other boys in my class, that was about as appealing as applying for a job to clean the bathrooms at Hardee’s. It’s not that we didn’t like singing. We sang all the time. But we sang what we wanted, how we wanted and where we wanted. That is to say, we sang Bon Jovi and Beastie Boys songs while we were on the playground. We had no desire to  get dressed up to sing songs in public that had not previously been performed by Bon Jovi or The Beastie Boys.

So one of us came up with an idea.

We would intentionally turn our individual chorus audition into a dumpster fire. At that time, American Idol hadn’t been invented yet so we didn’t know about bad singers who made fools of themselves at auditions but that’s what we were going for. Our rationale was simple. If we didn’t make the chorus squad or team or gaggle or whatever it’s called, we’d have more time on the playground. This was an easy one for me seeing as how my natural voice sounded something like a duck getting in a fight with a sore-throated Bob Dylan.

If there was ever a person created to do bad on a singing audition, it was me. So that’s what I did. All by myself. With my buddies sitting on the front row and the chorus teacher and her clipboard a few rows behind them.

All she had to do was put the appropriate marks in the appropriate boxes on her paper, frown say something like, “Bless your heart” and the playground was ours to enjoy.

But there was one small problem.

Everyone made it. Long before we had ever stepped on that stage, the decision had already been made. No matter how bad we sounded, we were going to be in the chorus. So several months later, instead of laying around in my pajamas and watching wrestling while listening to Bon Jovi and The Beastie Boys, I was wearing church clothes on a school night and singing to a room full of adults about a boy who played the drums for Jesus. Although our plan had failed, I still learned something from my chorus ordeal.

Our audition had more to do with the judge than it did our performance.

This lesson extends beyond the world of elementary school chorus. It gets to the heart of salvation by grace through faith.

Not one person was saved because of being baptist enough, good enough, promising enough or by winning God over with a stellar performance during some spiritual audition. By God’s grace, those who belong to him were secured before they ever had any say in the matter.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV)

Salvation by grace through faith means that our standing before God has more to do with him, the Judge, than it does our performance.

Kyle Dillingham couldn’t be more different from me. He’s an expert in music, specifically the fiddle. He once played a fiddle that was worth several million dollars. I’m not sure but I think at that point, the fiddle becomes a violin.

Either way, Dillingham knows his stuff.

How else could he take a box of broken fiddles and use them to make beautiful music? In one performance, Dillingham blends together the sounds of several broken fiddles to play the song How Great Thou Art. And somehow, it sounds really good. He says that the multi-million dollar fiddles he’s played, as good as they are, just can’t make the same sounds that the broken ones can.

That’s because the end result isn’t really about the instrument. It has more to do with the skilled musician playing it.

You may not feel qualified to carry the title of Christian. Here’s the bad news. You’re not. If God required an audition for entrance into heaven, you wouldn’t make the cut. Neither would I. None of us would.

Now for the good news.

You’re not required to audition your way into heaven. Jesus’ perfection is enough for you. All you have to do is trust in him.

For our sake he made him to be sin rwho knew no sin, so that in him we might become sthe righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

Maybe, even since becoming a Christian, you’ve developed a few scars, and perhaps even open wounds, from your sins, shortcomings and stupid mistakes. Thankfully, the good news isn’t just for non-believers. Its for imperfect believers like me and you who experience our own set of struggles and success stories. Christians need repentance and grace too.

And we need to remember that we are all, as broken as we may be, secure in the hands of the Master Musician.

The song our life produces has less to do with us and more to do with his great grace.