It’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  I’ve been enjoying my mandolin.  It sits in a stand right next to my couch, beckoning me to play.  My friend, Steven, who chooses songs for worship on Sundays, gives me a couple songs on Monday or Tuesday.  Then I sit on my couch and play the same two songs all week – trying to get ready for worship, learning a new chord or two.  My bride is a patient woman who, I think, is enjoying this new hobby.  My kids, on the other hand, find it more than a bit annoying.  I think I’m cramping their TV watching…bummer for them.

My left hand is picking up a few calluses.  This is a peculiar feeling…or lack of feeling I should say.  Primarily my pointer and middle finger are getting calluses so far.  This is undoubtedly due to the simple beginner chords I’m learning that only have two fingers being used.  As I type or as I rub my thumb across the tips of them I get a strange sensation, numbness.  Right now it’s a strange sensation.  I feel the pressure, but not the difference between soft and rough surfaces.  I’m confident that soon I will not even notice the loss of sensation and they will become “normal.”

Normally, a callus will form on any part of the skin exposed to friction over a long period of time, but I’m thinking they can form elsewhere, too.  Take the heart for instance.  With repeated exposure to friction over a long period of time, the heart can become callused as well.  Pharoah repeatedly rubbed against God’s call on his will (to release God’s people), but his heart became callused.  If there was a moment when he was truly feeling God speaking through Moses, it soon ended as his heart stopped being sensitive to God’s words.

I’m not too far removed from Pharoah.  There have been instances when I have felt God moving in my heart, calling me to act in a certain way or stop acting in a certain way – and unfortunately I have disregarded that call.  I’ve rubbed against the grain of God’s movement, and when it happens for a prolonged period of time I find it harder and harder to make a connection to God…I can’t feel the gentle voice of the Spirit.

I went in to a music store and asked if they had anybody who taught mandolin lessons.  They did.  Lance.  Lance is an older fella who looks the part.  Full on bluegrass grandpa.  He’s great.  I could go on and on describing him, but I just want to tell you what he said about calluses: “Don’t ever play with wet fingers.”  Apparently if you play with wet fingers you can make those calluses fall off (something you don’t want, I guess).  Which makes me think that entering the water softens the skin and allows an opportunity to rid myself of the callus.

In “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis, a young boy with a hard heart transforms into an ugly dragon and can’t rid himself of his “dragon suit” until Aslan submerges him in water and painfully, beautifully removes his scales.  This is the move I must periodically make – remind myself of my baptism and the freedom from hardness that has already been given to me.  I repent and allow God to submerge me and soften my heart, remove my calluses, and give me renewed purpose and the voice of the Spirit to direct me.

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