I can’t imagine a world without the moments that make me stop for a minute, take a deep breath in wonder, or throw my hands heavenwards in thankful praise. Music and poetry often do this for me and are as essential to my good living as herbs and spices are to my cooking.  

I come from old-school church life where our fellowship was wrapped in music with no worship team center stage. If you played an instrument, you were in the church band, and if you loved to sing, there were choirs for every age group. Especially talented singers displayed their gifts at regular ‘talent evenings’ and poetry recital competitions were common. To this day, certain classic poems still make my heart beat a little faster with the remembered drama of past performance! 😊

One such poem was ‘The Touch of the Master’s Hand’ by Myra Brooks Welch. In a nutshell, an old violin (a metaphor for the hopeless sinner) is auctioned off as having little to no value. Then a stranger in the crowd picks it up, tunes it and suddenly, the air is filled with glorious music. The last line reads, ‘…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.’

For me, a true story like this one is also a thing of beauty, a poem of another kind. In 1964, when Itzhak Perlman was only 18, he was invited to perform in Carnegie Hall, and for this prestigious occasion he was loaned a precious Stradivarius from the Julliard collection. It was insured for $20,000, which in today’s market would be over $200,000! Despite rigorous precautions, the instrument was stolen, along with 2 valuable bows belonging to Perlman. It was a sensational loss, making headlines in the New York Times the following day. A local pawnshop owner read the report and remembered the scruffy young man who just the previous day had rushed into his store at closing time, handed him a violin and asked for $15. On opening the case, he saw 2 bows with the violin, so, thinking it a reasonable risk, gave him the money. Wonderfully, this instrument proved to be the stolen violin and was duly returned, as were the bows to Perlman. Imagine pawning something of such great worth for a mere $15!

Isn’t this just like the world? It’s a sad fact that our self-obsessed device-bound culture increasingly seems to have trouble recognizing what really matters. The opinions of self-proclaimed ‘influencers’ and so-called celebrities are given the weight of wisdom. And inviting people to ‘think on…what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable’ is just too idealistic in a world where thinking for yourself is often frowned upon.

I vividly recall the night many years ago when Best Beloved lay on the floor of a campmeeting tent, laughing and speaking in tongues solidly for a few hours. He later shared how, despite his recent salvation, his previous outspoken agnosticism had left him with a sense of unworthiness and robbed him of any real joy in his salvation. A powerful meeting with the Holy Spirit left him laughing at the devil’s attempt to rob him. He finally understood how God saw him – clothed in the righteousness of God himself because of Christ, an heir to every good and perfect gift the Father has for us. He has laughed ever since! 😊

I grieve for each person who struggles with their identity because they see themselves through the real or imagined opinions of others. If only we can see ourselves as the Father sees us – our souls ‘dressed’ in his own righteousness because of what Christ became for us, worth so much more than ‘$15’ in a pawn shop!

And to those bound by fear: ‘The One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.”’  Isaiah 43:1