When I pick up my guitar after allowing my children to bump it and plunk the strings, I often find that the perfect chord yields something less than a perfect chord. Before I can play, I have to spend a few moments tuning the guitar.
Tuning requires two actions. I can simply tune the strings so that they make sounds spread the right distance apart. For example, as long as the lowest two strings are set five half-steps apart from each other, it really doesn’t matter if they are an E and an A. They could just as easily be an F and an A# or a D and a G. If the guitar is in tune with itself, then it’s a functional instrument–at least for solo playing.
But to truly tune my guitar, I’ll need to access some outside source, some standard pitch. Normally, that has me plunking a loud E on a piano. I make sure that the fattest string sounds that E accurately, and then I tune the rest of the strings from there. Only when you tune to that standard pitch can you truly say that your instrument is tuned.
When Robert Robinson wrote the words to “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” he used that image of tuning. The human heart is not naturally tuned to sing of God’s grace. My heart naturally sings more about crummy weather and too little sleep. The same can be said about all the flesh surrounding our hearts. Our bodies–out of shape, diseased, overweight, addicted–have been busily cashing the paychecks that prove “the wages of sin is death.” To one degree or another, most of our bodies have a problem. They are, like our hearts, out of tune.
So how do you go about tuning a human heart much less a body? A lot of people try that first approach, making sure that all of the strings of our lives are set in proper intervals. For our hearts and minds, that’s what we do when we listen to Dr. Phil and Wayne Dyer. With our bodies, that’s when we trust ourselves to Dr. Oz or Jillian Michaels. That sort of tuning is fine, but, just like a guitar, we need a more precise approach. We have to be tuned to the absolute standard, the perfect pitch of God.
Just as my guitar cannot tune itself, I cannot tune myself. Instead, I have to allow the Great Musician to turn the pegs and set my heart to the right pitch. Thankfully, God is perfectly willing–even eager to tune us, if we’ll just let him. When we spend time with God, reading and meditating on his word and praying to him, we can expect that he will–sometimes slowly and sometimes suddenly–tune us to play his songs.