I Need a New Guitar – Parable by Caleb Miller

I need a new guitar. my old acoustic has finally given up on me. When I go guitar shopping, I sit and play each guitar for a while. Each one has its own unique tone, everybody knows that, but they also have their own feel. the way the back of the guitar rests against your body is just as important as the sound. Ever try spooning with a partner who lies perfectly straight and stiff? It’s a bit like that. Some guitars will feel stiff, even the expensive ones. A cheap guitar is one that is made to look good on the hanger, have the right shiny parts that catch the light and your eye, but when you pick it up…you can tell. 
A guitar is something that needs to mold to your body before you ever hit a chord. Once I find one that sits right, I move my hands around the fretboard, still not playing, but feeling the fit. I have small hands, and if my pinky can’t reach the 6th string comfortably, the guitar goes back on the hanger, without being played. Then I’ll hold the guitar and look down the neck looking for any twists or bends. Once the fretboard is straight and my hands fit right, and the fit to my body is right, I’ll tap the strings on the 12th fret to see what kind of harmonics I get. No harmonics – no playing. It’s only after I’ve tested the fit, fretboard width, harmonics and neck that I’ll actually start playing. 
Once I start playing I’ll never just whip into a song, especially something that isn’t what I’d play normally. Too many just want to crank out some shred that they know to impress the guys around them. I don’t care about impressing them, I’m trying to impress the guitar. I palm mute a couple simple chords – I’m looking for percussives in the sound. Too tinny – back on the hanger. No percussives – back on the hanger. After I’ve tested that, I’ll play a few open chords higher up the neck to test the intonation. if it’s off, back on the hanger. If there’s a buzz in the frets, it goes back on the hanger. 
Once all the prerequisites are satisfied, I’ll start playing one of my own songs. None of my stuff is challenging musically speaking, but it’s what I’ll be using the guitar for the most, and I want the guitar to hear that song. If the guitar doesn’t begin singing my song, It goes back on the hanger. After playing several – most often dozens – of guitars, i find one that begins singing the song back to me as I play. That’s my guitar. that’s the one I don’t mind investing in, and that’s the one I want to absorb my playing style. A guitar will spend its life learning your style, learning your songs, and the sound will grow through years of play. It will become yours, not through ownership, but through partnership. Someone else can pick up your guitar 10 years from now, and it will not be theirs, it will be yours. 
It’s a lot like that with the gospel. For so long, we’ve been forced to sit and hold a gospel that is too stiff, and doesn’t move with our own life’s curves. We’ve been held captive by something we can’t get our hands around, that is twisted and bent beyond all recognition. The gospel we’ve been taught has no harmonic resonance to stir us inside and it falls flat when tapped. The message we’ve heard doesn’t have that percussive beat we’ve been looking for, and still we hold it and try to force a song. It is a thin message that doesn’t work “up the neck” from our current stage of life, and has an immense amount of buzz as we play it. 
Worst of all, it doesn’t sing our song. The master builder has formed us to play and we have forced a message that doesn’t make use of his art. We have forced a song into an instrument that was never meant to play it, and the instrument isn’t singing back. We have tried to force the instrument to learn the song of the gospel, but the gospel we’ve taught it isn’t the gospel at all. It is a cheap gospel, one that looks good from a distance, but fails to impress when held closely. It is a mass produced gospel meant to shine in the right light, but never sing back to us. It is the gospel that declares that Jesus is not enough, that His Father is only as good as you allow Him to be, and that His love is only unfailing as long as you are breathing. 
It is time to put that gospel back on the hanger. The reason people want nothing to do with our gospel is that it is so cheap. It shines in the light, and catches their eye, but once they’ve held it, it fails to impress. It is time to take the gospel of the success of Jesus Christ and His inclusion of humanity into His life off the hanger and begin to play. It will fit. It will stir up their hearts. It will resound within people.

It will learn their song and sing it back to them.

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