I was puzzled.  It’s not a state of mind with which I’m unfamiliar, but I had thought I was on solid ground.

Once again today, I found myself at my work bench with a guitar before me.  As with the state of mind, it’s not a rare situation.  I spend several hours each week at that post in the course of my work.

acoustic-guitar-509466_1280Usually, I know what I’m doing.  Without consulting any manuals, or making any telephone calls to experts, I am confident in my ability to complete the task before me.  I don’t usually take jobs I think I might not be able to finish.

The young lady had been a little vague when she dropped off the high-quality guitar a few weeks ago.  Still, I thought I understood the problem and even had a pretty good idea of what I would do to make it right for her.

“The pickup system just doesn’t have any sound.  I know there’s supposed to be a battery somewhere; maybe that’s the problem.  You’ll figure it out, won’t you?”

I was sure I would.  Until today.

I stood, strings dangling off one end of the guitar cradle, and wires hanging off the other.  In the middle the beastly guitar, ordinarily a thing of beauty, lay taunting me.

The battery was fine.  I had checked the electronic pre-amp, the brains of the pickup system, and found it to be functioning as it should, as well.  That left just one thing, I thought.  There must be a broken wire going to the pickup itself.  

This should be easy.  I was sure of myself.  So sure was I that I took a coffee break.  No hurry—I’ll wrap this up in a few minutes.

The red-headed lady who raised me had an apt saying for this circumstance (she had one for nearly every situation):  Ha!  Famous last words!

I might even have heard her chuckle as I stood there befuddled an hour later.

Four.  There were four pickups, not just one.  I just couldn’t understand it.  If there were four pickups, a single broken wire wouldn’t affect all of them.  I could see clearly that each pickup had its own wire going to it.

I stood there like a condemned man.  I knew what was coming next.  In the same way a man driving in circles in a strange neighborhood knows he will eventually have to stop and do the unthinkable—ask for directions—I knew.

I called the service department at the guitar’s manufacturer.  The lady who answered the phone was perky.  I didn’t want perky.  The man she transferred the call to in electronics was also perky.  I talked with him anyway.

Telling him my problem, he explained the proprietary design of the pickup system.  I think if you look it up, the definition for proprietary is: You need to call our help desk to understand it.

The perky fellow used a hundred words to explain the system.  I heard one.


Do you remember the old Christmas tree lights?  The ones that worked fine until one light burned out?  With one failed bulb, the entire string of lights went dark.  Series.

In a series circuit, the power flows through each component in the series to the next one.  If there is a break, or fault, in any one of the components, none of them will work.

There are four pickups on this guitar.  If one fails, the other three would certainly be adequate to get the necessary sound to the amplifier and thus, to the audience.  But, they aren’t allowed to do their part if any one of them fails.


You know there is more to this than a simple lesson in guitar repair, do you not?

Did you know that electrical circuits are also called branches?  The reason is obvious.  They branch from the main power source and depend on it for electricity.  

I look at the word branch and can’t help but hear the words of the Teacher, in one of the most serious conversations He ever had with His followers, telling them He was the source of all power and making it clear they must maintain a direct relationship with Him.  (John 15:4)

I want to tell you He declared that He was the Main Breaker Box and they were the circuits. 

Actually, He used the agricultural milieu they were accustomed to to explain, assuming the role of the trunk of the plant for Himself and assigning the part of the branches which fed directly from that trunk to His followers.

I’m sure He wouldn’t mind the adaptation to the reality in our day and age.

overloadI wonder.  Are we plugged directly and permanently into the Power Source?  Directly into the Source?  Or have we just dragged our extension cord over to plug in into one of the branch circuits, along with dozens of others?

Many in our day follow a man.  They follow a sect—or a denomination—or even a certain doctrine.  I’m not sure these are bad things.  We’re just not intended to come to God through any of those things.  Any of them.

He didn’t wire us into His grid in series.

Are you plugged in?  Directly, plugged in?  If your pastor, or mentor, or teacher messes up, will you be devastated and left directionless?

If we depend on men for our strength, it is a guarantee—an absolute guarantee—we will be left confused and wandering in the dark.  

I’ll repair the broken wire to that one pickup tomorrow.  The system will function again—for awhile.  And, the guitar will end up on someone’s workbench again—mine or another shop’s.


Time to find the Source.

Get plugged in.


“Oh dear,” said Jill, coming another step closer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
(from The Silver Chair ~ C.S. Lewis ~ English educator ~ 1898-1963)


For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,
(1 Timothy 2:5 ~ NIV)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *