Friday, May 12, 2006

A Stradivarius Violin

Belonging To Skillful Hands

A few weeks ago I got a CD out of the library of Itzach Perlman’s greatest hits. It was absolutely ridiculous to hear the music that dude can make. People often say that the violin is the closest sounding instrument to the human voice, but there is no voice that could ever do the things Perlman can do with that violin. He can play so fast and so high that your brain can’t even keep up with the stream of sonorities he produces… but he can also play so heartbreakingly slow and with such depth of feeling that you have to pull the car over and just let it get inside you. Contained in the liner notes of the CD is an interview of Perlman where he explains the different pieces of music he chose for the record and why he chose them. After discussing all of the music, the interviewer asks Perlman to talk about his violin. He said that he plays a Stradivarius violin that was handcrafted in 1714. He ends by saying, “What I can tell you is, it’s a great fiddle!”

In his description of this 292 year-old instrument, Perlman said that he considers himself very lucky to have acquired it. I have to disagree. That violin is lucky to be in such gifted and capable hands! Although it is true that there is no violin quite like a Strad, it is also true that many of the ones that are still around these days are in glass cases in museums or owned by outrageously wealthy people who can’t play a single musical note. Violins were made to make beautiful music, and no matter how good the instrument is, sitting in a case or in tone deaf hands is not where they should be. Ah, but to belong to Itzach Perlman… to be owned by a musician like him… if violins could dream, they would dream of Perlman.

Psalm 107 says, “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this…” The word redeemed means ‘purchased’ or ‘bought back.’ People who have believed in Christ and received His free gift of life were bought by Him and the price He paid was His own precious blood. Paul says that because of this purchase, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to Him. He owns us because He paid for us with His very life. Sometimes that idea causes people trouble because they believe true freedom means belonging to no one and having control over your own life, but the truth is that no one belongs to themselves or has any real control. The Bible says that people are either owned by sin which causes misery and despair and ends in destruction; or they are owned by Christ… the tender and Good Shepherd whose “love endures forever.”

Before Perlman’s Stradivarius was a violin, it was a spruce tree, a maple tree and some random pieces of metal. Then it was crafted into something with the potential to make beautiful music; and in the right hands, it has made some of the most stunning and gorgeous music ever imagined. We have been redeemed and now belong to the most skillful hands there are… the hands that crafted us and the hands that were wounded for us. They are the hands of Christ, who is able to create with us the beautiful music we were made to make. It is good to belong to Him, for He is good and His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this!

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