What The “F” Chord Taught Me

In February of ’64, watching the Beatles’ American debut on the Ed Sullivan show, I sat transfixed, as if I were seeing live footage of a newly-discovered mastodon.  I decided to learn guitar, perform to screaming throngs of teenage girls, and run through the streets of Liverpool trying to escape said girls.

With great excitement I began my lessons on a shiny new rented guitar.  The velvet lining inside the case smelled better than a new car. I was on my way to stardom.

But, surprise – learning guitar takes work!  Hours  practicing hand-contorting finger positions, learning scales and rhythms.  And the “F” chord – even when my spasmodic fingers reluctantly agreed to go where I wanted, I could only produce from the strings a dull plunk.

But slowly, tediously, discipline became delight. I eventually learned to play, formed a band, made lots of music in high school and college and to this day still enjoy playing. Never did run through the streets of Liverpool…

The principle applies to the Bible as well as guitar.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart… JE 15.16

First, discipline: We must “eat” God’s word – take it in, chew on it, seek to apply it to our lives.  Delight will eventually follow as we know God and experiencing his blessing.

“I believe that the one chief reason that I have been kept in happy useful service is that I have been a lover of Holy Scripture.  It has been my habit to read the Bible through four times a year; in a prayerful spirit, to apply it to my heart, and practice what I find there.  I have been for sixty-nine years a happy man; happy, happy, happy.” – George Mueller

We must seek God’s grace for discipline.  Delight will surely come.

photo by nemusns

  • http://www.asacrificeofpraise.wordpress.com emily

    thanks mark. i often struggle with feeling hypocritical by obeying when the joy is just not there. and then discouraged if the joy doesn’t immediately come as a result. thanks for the reminder that even this discipline will pay off.

    as for the guitar, i regret never getting past that infamous “f” key… *sigh*

    thanks for your encouragement!

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Hey Emily,

    Thanks for your continual encouragements! I remember hearing someone once say it is never hypocritical to obey the Lord. Often, I can feel that way when I “rejoice” in a trial, but I remind myself that I’m not being hypocritical, I’m being obedient. Sometimes the joy comes much later, but it is really worth the discipline.

    Hey, you can go after the guitar again, you know!

    Mark

  • http://www.worshipfulreader.blogspot.com Ron Reffett

    Hey Mark,
    Great reminder today…as always! It is so true about the discipline thing, I remember when I first started learning to play the bass and I would get so frustrated when I couldn’t play like Billy Sheehan or Jaco not realizing that it took them a loooong time to get to the place that they are as bassists and I was just learning the names of the strings! Now after years of playing and practicing I can actually play chords and melody lines on my bass..I’m still not anywhere near Billy or Jaco, probably never will be but I have come so much farther than just learning E A D G!
    Same goes for our relationship with the Lord, we want to be like the Apostle Paul or Peter after only spending such little time in fellowship with the Lord, it takes time and much discipline to grow closer to God and there will be times when our emotions will fight us and tell us it just isn’t worth it, as Derek Prime says, “It is sheer foolishness to only pray when we feel like it,” as with the other disciplines in our walk. If we only did them when we felt like it, we would be in an even sorrier state than we are already.
    Thank you so much for yet another great post, I always look forward to what you have to say. By the way, I’m totally glad that you learned that dreaded “F” chord!
    Blessings
    Ron Reffett

  • http://www.asacrificeofpraise.wordpress.com Emily

    thanks mark! :) maybe i’ll pick it back up… or get a new one or borrow one since i don’t have mine anymore :)

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Hi Ron,

    Maybe you can’t play like Jaco, but you know the Lord! I like what Derek Prime said – “It is sheer foolishness to only pray when we feel like it.” If I only prayed when I felt like it, I would probably never pray. Thanks again for your encouragement.

    Hey Emily,

    Only if you really want to! If you do, be sure it’s easy to play and press down the strings. Actually, electric guitars are easier to learn on than accoustics usually. Speaking of not having guitars, I once sold a Gibson SG for $150 in college – they’re worth $3500 nowdays.

  • http://www.gontroppo.blogspot.com David McKay

    G’day Mark.
    Being able to play F certainly was a milestone.

    I heard about a bass player called Ian Gee, who could only play two notes…