Embracing the Basics
Recently I had a practical and real reminder of the basics after our neighborhood lost electricity for several hours due to a summer storm blowing through. During these experiences the step-by-step processes for doing things like eating, seeing at night, bathroom routines, and staying cool in the summer heat are re-visited and adjusted while people who are ready to get back to the normal routine wait eagerly for the next text update from PP&L Electric Co.
So what are the “basics” aside from the practical realities of life on earth like when going without electricity? Thanks to Google I found a couple definitions and will share one that stood out: Basic – “forming an essential foundation or starting point; fundamental.”
Fundamental. Essential foundations. Do images of math flash cards and grammar phonetics come to mind? What about lessons in learning to drive or ride a bike? Or perhaps the basics of salvation through Jesus and the gospel message come to mind. There have been many reminders to me recently on how far reaching basic foundations are in countless aspects of our life – spiritually, relationally, in family, in communication, in health, in finances, etc. I’ve been discovering fresh revelation lately that JESUS who is my friend and ultimate foundation is “into” the basics. Sometimes, as a deep thinker and processor I find my brain doing calisthenics during times of focus on the basic steps of something, but it can be a good healthy thing when I’m willing to process it with Him. In fact, it has been humbling to me recently to recognize on a deeper level that I don’t need to try to “work” my way to get to Jesus, but He came into my world in human form to meet me where I am at. Jesus is the ultimate bridge. He understands. He has made provision. By His very example I believe He is “into” the basic foundations, from salvation to learning to ride a bike.
So why do we spend time on the basics of something anyway? The starting points. The foundations. Though there may be varied answers, I think a primary one is that it’s because there is something new that we or another are encountering, acclimating to and/or discovering – big or small. It could be a new relationship, a new culture, a new habit or skill, a new job assignment, a new family member, a new word from God, etc. His mercies are NEW every morning, right? In any area we or another move forward in life we encounter the NEW. There is a step one, two, three process that is foundational and healthy. And step 1 in the basics of anything new can carry the same worth and impact that step 20 does!
Taking New Steps
While thinking about basic foundations, I remembered an experience from last December. During the Christmas season, I joined in a Christmas caroling time for children in a large local hospital for the first time. I was looking forward to it as I had missed being able to do so the previous year. Musicians were invited to bring their instruments so I took my keyboard and gear in to participate with a group of local folks from the community wearing red elf hats. We chatted and waited for our fearless leader. When he arrived, we greeted one another and eventually he smiled and nicely said something along the lines of, “Unless that keyboard has wheels it’s not gonna work for Christmas caroling.” Reality hit. We were going to be going to the children’s rooms not having the children and parents come out to the lobby. It made perfect sense, but my brain simply hadn’t considered that scenario. It was a NEW environment and I was receiving my first lesson real-time in the basics of “music in motion” in a hospital.
To make a long story short, I quickly decided I would join with the group by singing. So a couple kind gentlemen with red elf hats offered their muscles to help me move my keyboard and gear to an employee closet nearby for safe keeping while we traveled about. Later on in the evening some carolers with “mini guitars” arrived and began to play with us. It fit the environment perfectly! Not knowing what these instruments were for sure, I asked. The response? “A ukulele.” I was both intrigued and slightly challenged simultaneously. The ukulele became a lead instrument and my keyboard sat in a closet. It was a new environment! As I began to sing with the carolers and witnessed the atmosphere of oppression begin to shift again as the guitar and ukuleles played, I realized it was perfect for what was needed.
Did I miss playing the keyboard? Of course! But, as I watched the caroling group leader/musician demonstrate in his own way the simple ability to love people on a basic level in this place, I realized I could still love, bring life, and pray. I could still carry and release the God of love inside of me – it was just in a different language and through a different way, or a different instrument than what I was used to – singing, talking and being present. Though it took some acclimating time in the beginning, it was a growing experience I value and know I would not have had standing behind a keyboard that night. So when we finished caroling, I sat down in the lobby with some of the ukulele players and was offered a brief lesson. “Now put this finger here, and that finger there…”
Discovering New Instruments
Recently, God has led me into a couple other new steps, one being connected to the basics of evangelism. I’ve found that every step in this area and in others is like learning to play a new instrument. There were two statements that came to mind recently that I felt the Lord challenge me in that I think are healthy to consider and will share:
- If more attached to the “instrument” than to the call, I may miss the heartbeat of God being communicated in a new way and in a new season.
- Unwillingness to learn new “instruments” may delay or prevent the purpose God has for me and/or others in new seasons.
Questions we can ask ourselves for healthy positioning to step into something “new” whether a big step or small one:
- Do I find my identity in an “instrument” or thru the God who gave the instrument?
- If God leads to do so, am I willing to express and communicate a message He has entrusted thru a different instrument, vehicle, or language than what I’m used to, and that may take time and effort to learn?
- Am I willing to be a beginner?
- Do I find my security and confidence in my sense of “proficiency” (or appearance of it) more than my heavenly Father’s declaration of identity to me and over me
- Am I willing to rely on Jesus’s perfect love and grace to work in me as the ultimate message versus relying primarily on personal efforts and willpower?
I believe Jesus extends His grace, all we have to do is receive it in each of these areas. Whether it’s overcoming fear, insecurity, or pride, the grace to move beyond these things in greater ways as we move into new areas is always there. It’s of course a journey, but He invites us to walk it every day WITH Him. There are times when learning “new instruments,” new languages, or ways of doing things comes naturally with little effort. And sometimes, it flat out takes a little more “spunk” or courage to dive in to learn to swim in deeper waters. The instrument(s) may be really different than what we’re used to. The environment may be really different than what we’re used to. I think these are times to be real and be okay with our “humanness.” Know that Jesus is okay with it. He has led us to those points and all we need to do is look TO HIM. Ask Him for His hand to walk us through, the grace to be empowered, and start to step (or leap) into what He is saying by simply EMBRACING the basic of the next step.
The Basics of ABC and 123
So obviously there can be varied basics for different things. It can vary based on scenario. However, there are certain heart postures and practical steps I think are fairly helpful across the board in stepping into the basics of anything new. They are summarized below in ABC and 123.
A – Ask questions!
“Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). This simple posture causes me to need to hit the pause button sometimes. I’ve been trying to more purposely observe the basic characteristics of children around me lately. What is it about children that Jesus pointed to them as a model for humility and how to enter the kingdom? What is it that God deposited in us as children that we can invite Him to re-kindle? I will let you interact with the Lord on that as you are led, but will mention one of the things I find intriguing – children are constantly learning. They are asking questions continually. What are you doing? Why? Can I do it? What is it? How does it work? Why? Giving ourselves permission to ask questions (to the Lord, to others, even ourselves), even that we “think” we should know the answers for, can be empowering. The disciples asked Jesus questions frequently, too. They learned and so do we now.
B – Be authentic
The life of Peter in the Bible has been a huge encouragement to me for the past several months. Peter was so real. He was passionate. His mistakes were plain as day and so were his victories. He would step out one minute and say or do something faith-filled and anointed and a short time later he was being rebuked for saying things contrary to God’s will. He declared zealously from his heart that he would die with Jesus and yet soon after he denied he even knew Jesus three times. YET, Jesus said to THIS Peter, “and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) I recognize there are different interpretations to this verse, but the Holy Spirit has brought it to mind repeatedly as a personal reminder and encouragement that He is not intimidated by authenticity and willingness to try. He can change and empower us in the process, just as He did with Peter. Authenticity is a necessary part of the basics to moving into anything new. It can open doors to growth and freedom.
C – Confidently embrace our God-given purpose and identity
Stepping into anything new, whether big or small can bring with it an automatic stretching or flexing to our “confidence muscles.” Every time we try something new, there are usually moments when situations occur that challenge confidence. It’s part of the growing process and the deepening of our roots. Ultimately whenever we come to one of these points, our ability to move forward is based on how much our confidence is based on skills, circumstances, appearance, and/or what others say, or if it is it based on what our heavenly Father says? This is a basic of all basics, an essential foundation. When we are in the midst of trying something new and experience the challenges that cause questions of purpose or identity to arise, the words of what HE says are a firm foundation that will not be shaken. “For when He spoke the world began! It appeared at His command.” (Psalm 33:9)
1.) Take Lessons and be Teachable
Engage in settings or with people that facilitate the development of learning to play that “instrument,” communicate that “language,” function in that gifting, etc. Whether it’s in person or online, there are other people, places, and resources out there that can help us grow and learn the basics of the instrument, tool, and language we are learning. One of the big areas I’ve received lessons/training in recent months is in rediscovering the truths in the basic gospel message and Jesus’ love and interacting and sharing this with others in public places like a grocery store. Though stretching and I’m still growing, the willingness to be a beginner and learn from others has made a huge difference.
In my opinion this is the hardest part of learning anything new. A new instrument. A new skill. Sometimes the repetition can be grueling and hard to stick to, but the humbling reality is that many times obedience in the basics of the nitty gritty is what opens the door to move forward. Sometimes it’s not a divine download or revelation, it’s just practice. God will meet us in the nitty gritty. He was born in a dirty manger. He died on a cross. He worked as a carpenter and lived with human people.
3.) Be Open to New Mindsets and Habits
When I was college my classmates and I studied hard for Microsoft office certifications (Word, Excel, etc.) Within one year, however, Microsoft rolled out the next version to the software program which involved a complete overhaul of the layout going from the standard menu to the infamous “ribbon layout.” EVERYTHING CHANGED. When the employer I worked for a few years later determined it was necessary to implement the upgrade it led to spending a significant amount of time in the “help” section, hollering across the hall to co-workers, and googling technical questions for the simplest steps that formerly took seconds to complete. But it did eliminate some of the basic technical communication challenges with vendors.
Sometimes when we step into something new, “software updates” can come with the package where we are learning new thought processes, new habits, and new focuses. These “updates” or changes can be a gift and a needed tool to support us in new steps or new seasons. How can I move forward in learning a new instrument to play in a hospital setting if I have subconscious mindset of a ukulele as “old-school?” How can I communicate effectively with vendors if our files are in two different styles or languages? Are there perspectives of others different than me which I need to consider? Are there assumptions or prejudices based upon a simple lack of understanding that can be corrected which can help bridge culture differences? Are there new habits for new skills I need to develop? Like when learning a new software program, it takes time and patience and a willingness to ask basic questions, be flexible, keep learning, re-learning and LAUGH in the process. Do NOT use a hammer on your computer, just laugh or step back if needed. If necessary say out loud, “I am human, I am learning, and that is a good thing!” It honestly is a brave thing.
Synergy of the Ages
There are a lot of different “instruments,” skills, and languages we may learn over time. Talking with a 5 year old is obviously something very different than talking with a 10 year old. Sometimes, especially for those of us who have carried a lot of vision and played a lot of varied instruments, I believe it is important to be reminded of the importance of all those “sounds” that have been released. Why would God take us from learning one “instrument” to another? What is the purpose? I recently recalled a dream I had read about in a book and thought it might be encouraging for anyone possibly asking this question and needing a reminder.
The dream involved various scenes of people coming forth over time in the United States. Each carried a unique “sound,” beginning with the pilgrims and puritans in ships, to the pioneers in covered wagons, to the planters in Model A’s and combustion engines, and on through generations to the present. These sounds were added one after another in harmony. In the dream there was an auditorium where group after group would file in over time. As varied groups entered, the others already there would shout and celebrate exuberantly. In each of these scenes, the sound would build until it began to feel like an anthem of the ages, layer upon layer. The sounds released through each assigned generation did not diminish with the arrival of a new sound. It was an increasing synergy of sounds that God was releasing through many people – a synergy of the ages through epochs of time. It was an accumulating and building work.
I believe sometimes it can be easy to think that the sounds or investments of one instrument are discontinued when we pick up another. However, I believe the sounds or songs God has each of us release through one instrument or song continue to resound in some way even when we begin playing another instrument. They are just added on as another layer. The “Orchestra Director” may call us to pick up new instruments or assignments for new parts in the symphony. This may obviously require going back to basics to learn a new instrument or language in order for the fullness of His sound and message to be released. A symphony requires many layers, pieces, parts and movements. If our focus is on the symphony, of which MANY OTHERS are a part, and not just the instrument itself, I believe we will not lose heart and be able to engage in the fullness of what God is releasing in EVERY season in a greater capacity.
I believe ultimately God is releasing Who He is into the earth. And everyone has the opportunity to be a channel for that every single day. “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14) There are many people waiting to hear a message of life and love in their language. This requires communicating thru varied instruments at varied times. So let’s look to the Instrument Giver and be ready to pick up a new one or put it down when needed. Then put that learner t-shirt on boldly and confidently. Smile and slap the student driver sticker on if needed! Give grace to other student drivers! Find a teacher or two, and pull out the instruction book boldly without any hesitation. We are wired to be a courageous people and release a beautiful sound. Let’s embrace the basics unashamedly as we learn, move into new seasons, and take new steps. There are people waiting…
- NLT & NASB Bible
- Strong’s Concordance
- *The Next Great Move of God – An Appeal to Heaven (Jennifer LeClaire). Chapter 5. Video summary of dream: https://vimeo.com/128525323
Hi! My name is Cherise Krum. I reside in Catawissa, Pennsylvania surrounded by mountains and farmland where the four distinct seasons exist in FULL! I was born and raised in this area with my growing family and have served both in the local church and marketplace arenas for much of my life. I value music, family, heart connections with others and am a passionate fruit lover resulting from growing up at a family orchard and farm market.
In 2009 the Holy Spirit unexpectedly invaded my world a year after graduating from college while working in International Logistics for a local business. A few short months later this small-town girl found herself in Dallas, Texas at Christ for the Nations Institute. While there, God turned my world upside down and imparted a deep hunger for Him, His Presence, and a heart to carry His Presence and goodness to a world He dearly loves. This desire has become a core life passion and continues to grow stronger through varied arenas and seasons in life.
I thoroughly enjoy communicating basic heart truths from personal, everyday interactions with God in a way that inspires and instills greater freedom and desire in others to know Daddy God and His heart more. I love releasing passionate worship through music and dance, as well as releasing His heart through intercession. My desire and prayer is that you are BLESSED and EMPOWERED in the areas God has called you to and that the words shared here may simply plant seeds of His life and greatness in you.