‘Twas battered and scarred,“The Old Violin” by Myra Brooks Welch
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,”
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its’ bow.
“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone”, said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
“We just don’t understand.”
“What changed its’ worth?”
Swift came the reply.
“The Touch of the Masters Hand.”
“And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is 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 Masters’ Hand.
In the poem, some in the crowd even cried after hearing the master play, and the author notes the change in the value was because of the “touch of the master’s hand.” It was never about the violin; it was always about the master.
This is something I have been forced to learn in less than 4 years at the church I have been attending for several more. Admittedly it is a difficult lesson but very valuable one and full of truth.
You see, a little under 4 years ago the founding pastor of my church died of sudden adult onset leukemia. He was a terrific man, a powerful speaker, and he spread the word of God like second nature. He was loved. When he passed on to be with the Lord, his son took over as lead pastor.
His son was as talented as his father and the church grew as people swarmed to hear his messages every Sunday. He was so gifted and vibrant and full of character. He also suffered from severe depression and anxiety and at the age of thirty, 3 years after the baton was passed onto him as lead pastor, he died tragically of suicide. He too was loved.
Two pastors gone in the matter of 4 years. That is a lot for a church family to absorb and to keep the faith in the midst of such tragedy. But we did. I realized that to attend church because of the messenger was not the right thing to do. That was displacing my line of sight.
For over six months now we have been blessed with a wonderful, loving, positive, transparent, God-fearing man as our interim pastor. He took over in a leap of faith at a time of crisis in our church. He has taught us faithfully and in truth. He too is loved.
But, he now is about to leave too, as we come to know a new lead pastor; And as bittersweet as that is, losing 3 pastors in less than four years, I know that the message they all preached was so much more precious and valuable than their mere presence in church every Sunday. I have learned to listen to not just the messenger but to hear the messages taught by the true Master of the messages; the Living Word. The one worthy of our worship and praise. God Himself. And I have grown so much closer to Him in the past several years than ever in my life.
Pastors are extremely important to the health of the church and I believe they should be cherished and I am certain I will love our new lead pastor as much as the others; but they are just human like you and me and I have to remind myself of that. I will not place my faith in the persona they present but rather the message filtered through them by God.
I have had to learn this the hard way but I am so grateful to know the truth by the Spirit and to rest in the knowledge that no matter what happens in our church, no matter who ends up as our next lead pastor, I will be confident in my worship being directed at the Lord alone, through this new messenger.
Rest in peace Dave and Drew, and may God’s hand be on you, Eric, for the rest of your journey and within your ministry. I have been honored to hear God’s messages through you all. And dear new pastor, I look forward to hearing what God has to say through you as well.
I will appreciate the music and how it is expressed but I will always give credit to the Creator of the message, not the messenger himself. For that is the point of it all. I will savor the beauty of the violin but always give praise to the hand that plays it so well.