You have probably heard of Itzhak Perlman, the Israeli – American virtuoso violinist. When he was young he contracted polio and since then has moved with extreme difficulty. For reasons too long to go into, a story concerning him came to my mind while driving my car today. I cannot verify details, but what I am about to tell you runs true to the essence of what I remember. He was performing somewhere, and having come on to the stage with great physical difficulty and effort, all of a sudden a string broke on his violin. He gave a sigh and sat quietly for a moment. He then reset the tuning of the remaining strings and played the piece as though nothing had happened!
That in itself shows a talent that is beyond the norm, but this morning as I thought about that incident I felt the blaze of the anointing of God, and a rise of emotion as the realisation dawned upon me, that I had, in some sense, done the same in recent years. Several strings are not there in my life that once were: parish ministry, health, etc. However, I have retuned the remaining strings and kept on loving the Lord and serving him in whatever ways seem to present themselves to me.
I do not usually write blogs that seem to pat myself on the back, but God seemed to pat me on the back today in the car to make this connection for me, between the memory of that Perlman story and my life, a connection I would never have made, and a pat I would never have given myself. In fact it was more affectionate than a pat by far. It was the touch of consoling affirmation and admiration in the deepest part of my being, the very heart of me where issues of trust and love and hope and relationship to God, others, life, and myself are formed, are rescued and healed. I usually prefer to boast of things that show my weakness and the power of God in that weakness. I intensely dislike those occasions where one has to listen to speakers speak about their marvellous ministries elsewhere to date as it were – a boasting that is usually not verified by results from the ensuing ministry, I have to say! However, I share my pat on the back from my Heavenly Father, in the hope it will help some of you who may have to retune your remaining strings, having experienced a few snapping at the most inconvenient times in life! It can be done.
Within that general truth, I believe there is someone who specifically needs to hear this who reads this blog. God would call you a “faith virtuoso.” First there was abuse in your childhood (round about or just under the age of 11 at some point). There was the instrument you were never allowed to master. Then there was the knock back in educational hopes. Then there was the series of broken relationships, the failure of marriage, disappointment with regard to children. But you have managed to retune the strings so many times and still sing songs of praise and faith. “Well done, Virtuoso!” Others screech out a tune which only their Father could bear to listen to and does! But your tune has blessed not only Him. Many others, more than you realise heard, savoured and appreciated your overcoming more than you know. It has helped them. Again, I say, “Well done, Virtuoso!”