“Here’s your packet of music,” she said. “I recommend that you practice using the piano soft pedal, because most of the students can’t sing that loud. Plus the pianos we use for festival aren’t all that great sounding. Also, you should practice the songs using the metronome, because it can be challenging to go from song to song changing tempos.
“Yes, of course,” I said.
She left, and I went downstairs. Opening the piano bench, I pulled out the metronome. Ah, you metronome. My old enemy.
Top left of every song is a number. Sometimes 112. Sometimes 97 or 66 or 42.
112? Challenging. That’s a snappy pace requiring serious practice.
66? Comfy. Give it a good sight read and no problem.
44? Cursed. Cursed 44. So slow, like the 15 miles per hour they want us to drive in front of our school. Sloth speed and not my style at all. I was raised by the man who liked to tap his foot to a lively beat.
“Come on –put some pep in it,” Dad would say.
44 has never met pep.
But 44 it was, so I listened to the metronome tick before I played the first measure. Nice and easy. But soon my rhythm was off, and I had to take a deep breath and start over. TORTURE.
I went to the school, and I played all of those lively songs that were so much fun. Then came the girl who had inflicted me with 44. Slowly, I said to myself. I played the introduction, and she began to sing. Oh, her voice and the words and the melody were so beautiful. Holding back became easy for me, because her voice was dancing and running.
A rich tempo.
In this discipline, of meeting the time demands of a song, I feel the same rhythmic changes that I experience in my walk with God. Sometimes I walk in comfortable movement with him through my days, and then at times he bumps me up to a pace that is way faster than I would like, where I fight panic and a feeling that things are moving almost out of control.
Sometimes there is a slow walk with God, and I push against the empty space. Quiet sound. Long pauses. Impatient, I want things to move forward, but if I restrain myself and stay, stay, stay in the slow place, soon I hear his voice dancing and running through my life.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7a NIV)
Soul metronome setting: 44.
If you are in a season where it feelings like God isn’t moving your life anywhere fast, I encourage you to find your favorite slow song and listen to it. Appreciate the design of the song and the beauty of the controlled, steady rhythm. God sets the tempo in these kinds of days, just as he does in the exciting, lively seasons you experience. We must discipline ourselves to keep the set rhythm.