We discovered this event by accident when I overheard two teachers talking about it at our District Festival, a ratings-only non-competitive event. So I asked, and after being told about this competition for district-rated superiors, was also advised not to bother taking any students. “There are as many as 70-80 in each category, and the winners are always students of some retired concert artist or college professor. You’ll never win.”
My students, despite being from the smallest county in Florida, and a rural one at that, took it as a challenge, and every year after that “going to state” was the goal for them all. And guess what? We did win, several times, in several events. My students had come up with their own little uniforms—white shirt, black pants or skirt, and Looney Tunes tie—and it got to the point that I heard people in the audience say things like, “Uh-oh. It’s one of the kids with the ties!” when they approached the piano or stood up to sing. We were not only recognized, but actually feared!
When you make a superior in a group event, like piano duet or piano trio, all parties must attend State in order for that group to compete. Imagine my surprise when a parent called me a few weeks before the competition telling me that her daughter, who had made a superior in piano duet, would not be attending State Contest. I knew the partner would be very disappointed. Then the mother really burst my tea bag when she said, “It’s not like they have any chance of winning anyway.”
What? As a matter of fact, piano duet was one of our best categories. And the partner had already won a second place the year before with another partner. If my students had gone to State feeling like they could never win anything, they never would have. They won because they believed they could, and worked toward that goal.
I have heard Christians say some things that sound just like that mother.
“I don’t know if I’m going to Heaven or not, but I sure hope so.”
“I don’t know if I sinned Lord, but forgive me if I did.”
“We’re only human. We all sin every day.”
Just what kind of God do these people think we serve? A capricious, malicious God who toys with us like a cat with a mouse, or a loving, faithful God who helps us in every way He can, including giving us clear instructions for life, the means to overcome sin, and promises that are real?
Do you think Paul went at Christianity with such a defeatist attitude? Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified, 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. It sounds to me like he expected to win.
Do you need a little help getting over that defeatist attitude? Just look at these passages this morning:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11
In case you didn’t notice, when we have a defeatist attitude, it isn’t so much ourselves we doubt as it is God. Satan is making inroads in our hearts and calling it “humility.” It isn’t humility to wonder about my salvation; it’s a lack of faith and trust in a God who has furnished everything I need to know that I am saved.
Who are you listening to this morning?
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 2 Corinthians 3:4-5