A Worthwhile Waste

An unhappy six-year-old sat crumpled down on the floor behind our upright piano, his arms crossed. “I don’t like piano,” he declared, “and I don’t like teacher Chris.” I sat looking at him and quietly sighed. What should I say? What can I do? It was another one of those days.

Toon was not willing to play anything, no matter how I coaxed, bribed or pled! He would happily play tag, hide-and-seek or snap blocks. But piano? No way! Not today. I had exhausted all of my fruitless child psychology techniques, and now I, like he, was just ready for this class to end. Am I wasting my time with this child? I asked myself. Did I come to Peace Music Academy (PMA) for this? No!

But later — a couple of years later — something happened. Toon asked, “Teacher, can you please tell me the life history of Jesus?”

I was mildly surprised but delighted. Yet, I am sorry to confess that my knee-jerk reaction was to bargain like I often do when he tries to distract and derail our music lessons. “Sure, Toon,” I said, “I will tell you after we finish this song.” But you know what? He refused to finish the song, and so I never shared the Jesus story with him. I felt bad about that. I had missed my opportunity! “God, please give me another!” I prayed.

Then the next week, between songs, Toon hopped down from the piano bench and raced to find the snap blocks before I could say boo. Here we go again! I thought. But then I felt God say, “Don’t worry about the music today! Go, sit and play snap blocks and tell him My story. That is what he asked for, right? And that is why you came to Thailand, right?” Absolutely! So I did. And you know what? I found that playing snap blocks, rather than being a distraction, actually helped Toon sit still and concentrate on the story of Jesus.

Of course, I want Toon and all my students to learn to play music well, and some of them are. But when it is all said and done, what matters most is not that they become great musicians. If, through studying at PMA, they learn that Jesus loves them and they accept His salvation, then any time I once thought was wasted proves to have been completely worthwhile!

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