Friday, June 16, 2017

The Master's Hand

June 16, 2017

Squeals of laughter floating across the backyard drift into the window as I sit on our bed and write. Little Gemma is trying to get to sleep at the foot of the bed, while the Alex and Abi read downstairs and the younger ones play hide and seek outside. It’s a good ending to a wonderful day. Suppertime included “High/Low,” where each one told of the best part of their day, and if they wanted, the worst. “Highs” are mandatory; “Lows” are optional. It’s a good thing; there were many more highs than lows, and lots of conversation and laughter throughout. These Friday nights with the grandkids are always a high for me. Few grandparents that I know have the opportunity to build into their grandchildrens’ lives as we do. And make no mistake: they build into ours, as well.

Earlier this evening as the younger ones danced through the sprinkler and splashed in the creek, we built a fire. As the flames died down and the embers glowed, it was time for S’mores. The younger ones then headed for the backyard while Alex and I sat and talked about life. She’s at that age when life-changing decisions are being made, often inadvertently. I didn’t go to college intending to marry someone I had never before met, but that’s exactly what happened. So with Alex, and with so many others, the plans we make give way to the greater plans of God, and our lives turn in a direction we had never imagined. 

A shorter conversation with our oldest grandson about a life of Christian service followed. Ian thinks deeply, is inquisitive and studious, and loves the Lord. He’s a technology buff, so Lord knows what direction that will take him, but I know that if the issue isn’t raised, Christian ministry is not something he would think of on his own. No one does. Jesus himself said that no one comes to the him unless the Father draws him. That’s true of ministry, too. I can lay the possibility before him, but if God isn’t in it, it would be a bad idea.

The bulk of the day was spent driving to the north of Buffalo to pick up my bass. I had other business in Niagara Falls, so combining errands made sense. I will never be a virtuoso on the instrument. I’ll be lucky if I can attain to hack status. But I love the instrument, and the work Monaco does is outstanding. It sounds like a new instrument; the lows are responsive, and it plays butter-smooth. Even I will sound good now! It reminds me of an old poem written by Myra Brooks Welch in 1921:

'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
      Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
      But held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
    "Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A dollar, a dollar. Then two! Only two?
      Two dollars, and who'll make it three?"

"Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
      Going for three…" But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man
      Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
      And tightening the loosened strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
      As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
      With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?"
      And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
      Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice,
    And going and gone," said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
    "We do not quite understand.
What changed its worth?" Swift came the reply:
    "The touch of the Master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
      And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
      Much like the old violin.

A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine,
    A game — and he travels on.
He is "going" once, and "going" twice,
    He's "going" and almost "gone."
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
    Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
    By the touch of the Master's hand.

Don’t be mistaken. I’ll never master the upright bass. It was Mr. Monaco whose touch brought out the potential of this instrument. And it will not be me who brings out the potential in my grandchildren; that’s God’s job. All I can do with them is what I did with my bass: put them in the hands of the Master. In his deft hands, the music will come. It will surely come.

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