Millions of children in the United States begin piano lessons. I was one of them. At age eight, I embarked on a musical career that featured a blazing start and a whimpering finish. My teacher introduced me to the magic of the keyboard with the first lesson of the first volume of the ancient and venerable John Thompson instruction series. The first lesson was simple. So was the entire first book. I raced through it in what I was sure was record time. In a matter of weeks I finished Volume I and began Volume II. Five years later, I quit taking piano lessons. I was still in Volume II. I had reached a plateau of difficulty and could not progress further without serious practice and discipline. I became a piano dropout like millions of other children.
As a seminary student, I resolved to start again. After a year, I could play Chopin (at least one piece). I moved away after seminary and ceased taking piano lessons. I was confident that I could progress on my own without the aid of a teacher. It didn't work. I wound up playing the songs I already knew and could not bring myself to practice the difficult sections of new ones. I had reached a new plateau, but I was as stuck on that one as I had been in Volume II of John Thompson.
The story of my music woes is an illustration of what is typical of us in a multitude of endeavors. It is particularly tragic when we see the same pattern emerging in Christian growth. Multitudes start the Christian life with a flair. They learn a few Bible verses, make a cursory reading of the New Testament, take a crash course in evangelism, learn a few perfunctory prayers, and then level off on a plateau of stagnated growth.
Where are you spiritually? Have you leveled off at a plateau of stagnated spiritual growth?