Sep 13, 2011

an instrument.

Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as they ended her applause that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable one.
He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking it was still where he had left it, but discovered that some one had stolen his and left that old second-hand one in its place.
He remained at the back of the curtain for a moment, then came out before his audience and said: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I will show you that the music is not from the instrument, but in the soul." And he played as he had never played before; and out of that second-hand instrument the music poured forth until the audience was enraptured with enthusiasm and the applause almost lifted the ceiling and building, because the man had revealed to them that music was not in the machine, but in his own soul. [Streams in the Desert, 9/28]

I read this passage several days ago and it gave me goosebumps. What a violinist! But today while reading through the Set Apart Girl online magazine, I was reminded of this story for a different reason.

Leslie Ludy wrote a thought-provoking article about self-promotion and its ability to waste and steal your precious hours {Set-Apart Girl Online Magazine; pp 9-18}. It was a great reminder to lay aside desires of being noticed recognized or congratulated. Instead, an emphasis should be on giving all the glory, all the fame, all the recognition and notice to the only One who deserves it, Jesus Christ.

The Christian life can only be explained in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you -- ­ your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything -- ­ then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! - Ian Thomas
"He [GOD] must increase and I must decrease" - John 3:30

 In the above passage about the reknown Paganini, it is doubtful that anyone else noticed that he was holding an old, second-hand violin. No one noticed the instrument because they were too busy noticing the master violinist passionately driving music out of that lowly instrument. It is highly doubtful that the violin got anything in return for being used by Paganini. No thank-you card, no gift card to a favorite restaurant, no trip to Hawaii. It merely did its job of being an instrument and yielding itself to the violinst; the violinist took care of the rest.

May I be a mere instrument in the hands of my God -- even if it means going unnoticed, thanked, or recognized -- so that my God can get all the glory and honor. No one praises the violin, but they praise great musician who used that otherwise unknown instrument. May those who see me doing anything praiseworthy give all the praise to my Master Musician, who composes beautiful music in the keys of grace, mercy, and Truth.  May I live for the applause of heaven alone.

Moses, Deborah, Hannah, David ... All had songs that were recorded in the Old Testament that brought praise to this Master Musician. Their songs did not consist of self-promoted lines about their own abilities, dreams, and personalities. Instead, about the goodness, justice, providence, and love of their God.

Moses sang in Deut. 32 that God is the Rock, perfect, and all His ways are just [v.3]. Of all the people in the Bible, I think Moses would have been entitled to writing a little song about himself. After forty years of faithfully leading hundreds of thousands of wayward, complaining, forgetful Israelites towards the Promised Land, he could have penned a hit single about his achievements. But no. Instead, he allowed himself to be an instrument that was constantly used to proclaim the greatness of God. Now, that's a true leader!

David's songs are also testament to the deliverance, protection, and goodness of God. King David had every reason to want to sit down and write about his accomplishments, for he certainly had many. He could have sang angst-ridden, woe-is-me- songs of being chased by Saul that would have made everyone pity him. Yet, he chose to use all of his songs to bring fame to God and lead that same wayward, complaining, forgetful nation into truly worshipping the Lord.

The prayer of St. Francis sums it all up beautifully:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

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Elle Alice