I was never one of those Asians with the bursting trophy cases. And I’m pretty sure any awards I did get were tossed in my mom’s move to Atlanta. But one award I’ll always remember getting was in the middle of freshman year at the end of our marching band season– “Most Improved Marcher.”
I haven’t thought about this award much since then, but it came to mind as I read from Galatians 5:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
I can’t help but think all those years of band geekery help me understand this concept in a deeper way than I would otherwise, although it wasn’t always this way. We all know “Most Improved Marcher” happens to be a euphemistic way of saying “You Used To Really Suck!”
And suck I did. When I first began marching I would just kind of amble over to my different points at whatever pace I felt like, with no concept whatsoever of marching ‘in time.’ But one day, for whatever reason, it suddenly clicked that my feet and the click of the metronome or the swoosh of the field commander’s hands were all supposed to be in time.
Whew, that concept was a game-changer, and the beginning of changing me. After months of marching alongside the same 199 people to the most obnoxiously loud metronome you’ve ever heard in your life, the beat and the rhythm and the synchrony of being “in step” follows you into your very dreams, until you feel more like two hundred extensions of the same visceral beat than two hundred separate people.
To this day, when I hear a rhythm remotely similar to that metronome, be it fire drill or car alarm, I have to fight a nagging instinct to walk in step with it.
What does it mean to be so tuned to the movements of God? To allow the Spirit to go first and follow his rhythm, rather than setting one’s own beat. To feel an instinctive awareness of his movements, his desires, his direction.
I think many of us, myself included, are more like freshman me in this regard, unaware of how God is moving most of the time. But just like that deafening metronome was eventually turned off because the beat came to dwell within my bandmates and me, I love living this miracle, that the Spirit of God breaths with every beat of our hearts because God has invited us into his music.
And may we all be, with his help, Most Improved over time.