One of the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening” in the February 24 to March 1, 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families manual is: “Why does God reveal truth to us ‘line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little’ (2 Nephi 28:30) instead of all at once?”
Most of my adult life I have been a home-based music teacher for the piano and also the organ. After a career of over 30 years, I thought of the things that I had learned from teaching children music. I was strongly impressed with the similarities to the development of faith in Jesus Christ. Just as revelation and faith in the Savior are not instantaneous, the skills to become a pianist do not usually come easily or immediately. In both, there is a process of “line upon line” (2 Nephi 28:30).
Learning Basic Piano Skills
When a young child of six or seven first comes to my studio to study piano, they usually have a desire to play and want to see progress quickly. It may seem tedious for them to build a foundation by learning how to sit properly and hold their arms and hands in the most effective position to play. Next, the numbering of the fingers and understanding of the keyboard takes a good deal of time to become natural. It is a process that needs constant repetition, and usually the child’s enthusiasm wanes after a few months.
As a teacher it is my challenge to understand the child’s individual personality and learning style. I can employ a variety of approaches, including musical games and playing duets. One effective method is to assign simple popular pieces, such as Christmas carols. Because of the familiarity of the melodies, the student quickly begins to see success. This gives them confidence to continue learning. I cannot, however, shorten the need for consistent preparation. The student’s practicing advances them to more complex musical pieces in a step-by-step process.
The basic techniques of rhythm, scales, and chords (which form the basis of music) are introduced gradually. It requires years of study and effort to reach a level of performance and satisfaction for each student. As each child has unique strengths, their results vary accordingly. The ability to become skilled as a pianist takes constant commitment and the willingness to learn new study techniques. Even as an adult, it is vital for me to practice often and learn new music numbers for a variety of purposes.
Learning Basic Faith Skills
Learning music skills “precept upon precept” reveals a pattern for how we can acquire faith in Jesus Christ through personal revelation. Inspiration through the Holy Ghost does not usually come rapidly or all at once. President Nelson stated in his April 2018 general conference address: “My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation … Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018, 94).
We need to be intentional in our desire to hear and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost in our lives. In today’s online world, it is easy for us to be distracted when we try and develop new skills or seek direction from the Holy Ghost. Sister Michelle Craig cautions: “The distractions and noise that fill the world and our homes and our lives can make it more difficult to hear His voice. These distractions can so occupy our minds and hearts that we leave no room for the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost” (“Spiritual Capacity,” Ensign, Nov 2019, 19). If we schedule our study and prayer time personally and as a family, it is much simpler to contemplate and feel the revelation we seek.
We also need consistent “practice” to be ready to receive spiritual revelation. Just as a student cannot make up a week’s work of practice in a few minutes, so we likewise cannot rush the process of receiving revelation. We may make excuses about how we spend our time, but the divinely inspired home-centered and Church-supported resources offer a wide variety of easily accessible ideas and strategies. Further, we need to act upon our study of these resources. Sister Michelle Craig explains: “When you receive promptings and then act with intention, the Lord can use you. The more you act, the more familiar the voice of the Spirit becomes. You will increasingly recognize God’s guidance and that He is ‘willing … to reveal His mind and will” (“Spiritual Capacity,” Ensign, Nov 2019).
Seeking Revelation for All Stages of Life
After I retired as a music teacher, I decided to become a student myself and begin cello lessons. It was a desire I have had for many years, and I knew it would require very different techniques and skills to become proficient. I learned how to sit, hold, and handle both the cello and the bow. The fingering is different than the pianist’s fingering on the keyboard. One more major change was tuning the cello every time it is played.
Learning new music skills is helping me see that we need to seek and accept direction from the Holy Ghost in all stages of life. As Alma counselled his son Shiblon: “for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end” (Alma 38:2).
If we cultivate skills in our childhood, it will be natural to build on those foundations. Our lives should be an ongoing process of listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost to direct us. Alma explains the power of lifelong revelation to Shiblon with these words: “as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 38:5).
For additional Come, Follow Me “Ideas on Personal Scripture Study” and “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening” related to this lesson, go to the following links:
Appendix A; How Does the Spirit Witness to Me That the Book of Mormon is True? Pages 202-203 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/come-follow-me-for-individuals-and-families-book-of-mormon-2020/appen-a?lang=eng
- Appendix D: Suggested Music for Families: February 24-March 1, 2020: “The Holy Ghost” (Children’s Songbook, 103) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/come-follow-me-for-individuals-and-families-book-of-mormon-2020/appen-d?lang=eng
For some Christmas spirit in February check out this Church News article and video about President Russell M. Nelson accompanying Claire Crosby as she sings “Silent Night”: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/president-nelson-and-7-year-old-claire-crosby-perform-silent-night-in-new-video?lang=eng