I'm surprised I could hear them over the running water and clanking dishes I was scrubbing. After dinner one winter night, I was taking a much-needed break from wiping runny noses, playing with race cars, and throwing the football by, you guessed it, cleaning up the kitchen—all by myself.
A moment to let my mind get lost in suds and leftovers.
My husband was playing downstairs with our two boys, two-and-a-half and one at the time. I left the door from the kitchen to the basement open just in case somebody needed me.
I could tell the boys had found the kazoos my parents brought them the weekend before that I was attempting to keep hidden in the garage for a rainy day. I heard one loud "BSSSZZZZZ" obviously made by someone who'd played that noise before, followed by, "My turn! I want to do it!" In my mind, I could see both boys jumping up and down in anticipation, fully expecting to play it just like Daddy did.
Though I couldn't see them, I could imagine my oldest son taking the kazoo from his daddy’s hand, and I heard him try to imitate the sound he'd just heard from the kazoo.
It sounded more like a whistle from the back of his throat—an obvious miss from actually playing the rudimentary instrument. "EEEEEK!" he went.
Instead of simply letting his own breath play the kazoo, he tried to copy the noise he heard with his own voice.
Completely out of the blue, I felt the Spirit prompt me as I corrected Bradley in my mind, "Just breathe, Buddy. Don't try to make the noise that only the instrument can make. All you have to do is breathe."
My heart was gripped.
How many times do I, like my son, take a gift from the Lord and try to play it my own incorrect way when all He has asked me to do is breathe? And how often do I get frustrated that my own squeaky squeals are so far from how I know a noise is supposed to sound?
Living life by the Holy Spirit's power instead of my own power is as easy as breathing . . . as long as one thing happens first - surrender. I must daily give up my best, greatest, most valiant effort at even the most noble of causes and confess, "Lord, I can do nothing apart from you." All pride and self-sufficiency are wiped out as I get lost in His beauty and holiness and ability and Word and calling. I must ask Him to live and breathe through me if I want to be an effective Kingdom instrument player.
I might achieve earthly success in my own strength, making a noise on my own that others actually like. People might praise me for this or that, my kids might love me and turn out OK, I might have lots of friends, and my marriage might be a happy one.
But in the weight of eternity—the only thing that really counts—I will be a complete and utter failure if I live this life in my own strength.
Softly, sweetly, and oh-so unexpectedly, my precious Lord and Savior reminded me of this truth: I can do nothing of true worth apart from Him.
As Jesus said to His disciples shortly before He was crucified, "'I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.'" (John 15:5)
And as Paul wrote to the Galatian believers: "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control . . . Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit . . ." (Galatians 5:16, 22-23, 25).
Father, I surrender. Help me abide in Your Word and listen to Your Spirit’s voice so my life sings your song and not my own.