Some of you may have heard this story but I think it’s inspiring; worth repeating and being encouraged by. It involves the world famous violinist Itzhak Perlman, crippled with polio from the age of four, overcoming significant obstacles on his musical journey to international adulation. Please click below for the story to unfold.
It’s a universal theme isn’t it? Paul talked about learning to be content in all circumstances. Peter and John, men transformed by their friendship with Jesus, stood before a crippled man at the gate of the temple: “Silver and gold we do not have, but in the name of Jesus of Nazareth get up and walk.” Or the little boy handing his insignificant lunch to Jesus to become the seed for the miracle of multiplication to feed more than five thousand people. If his mother had known where his lunch would end up she’d probably have said, “I’d have packed the best meal I could.” Jesus is content with the ordinary and every day, not our best effort to impress, as if somehow that will improve his miracle.”
It’s frighteningly easy to discount ourselves with negative reasoning and defeated conclusions. If only… is probably on the lips of many of us that leads us to delay or even cancel hopes, dreams, or aspirations. Consider Jesus, if ever anyone played with broken strings he is surely the greatest virtuoso of all time. God in human form living a life of power, integrity, and love in a fallen, hostile, and rebellious world? Talk about a challenge! On stage with three strings dangling and only one to play on. He made it sound so beautiful that people down the ages have had their lives changed by the sound of the symphonic music flowing from his single life.
Fortunately he was not a vain exhibitionistic but rather preferred the role of a conductor or a teacher. He invited everyone he met to play along without a moments thought as to how gifted they were. None of the disciples would have been chosen if the maestro himself had demanded they be experts. As they travelled with Jesus and witnessed what he could do, the sounds from this life of an extraordinary man, they began to test the waters themselves. Before long an orchestra of one or two stringed instruments with their broken strings trailing began to form and onlookers were amazed. “Look at these people, they are unschooled, ordinary men and women.”
That’s always been the message of Jesus. But it often gets lost, buried beneath piles of rules, traditions, or spiritual political correctness that will stifle rather than bless the spirit. People looked at the young Itzhak and discounted the brilliance of his playing as a thirteen year old boy because of his leg braces and crutches. Others, and even ourselves, can be wrong about who we are. We tend to focus on the failures or the negatives, the broken strings. It’s easy to do. But Jesus always multiplies the one sandwich, or the one string, we offer him. If we give him what we have, and who we are, the miracle will happen. He will make us look extremely gifted and good, he’ll applaud from the wings and allow us to receive praise without needing to steal the limelight.
I write these blogs primarily for myself, I know that of which I speak. Let’s resist the easy escape route of giving up, blaming something outside ourselves, or concluding, “It will never happen”. Naturally we all have limitations and different skill sets, but supernaturally in God’s hands, every one of us can be a source of profoundly beautiful music that will bless and enrich others. They may even say of us, as they said of Jesus, “Isn’t that just the carpenter’s son from Nazareth? Look at him/her now. Who would have thought?”
Below are two videos to enjoy and be inspired by. The first is Itzhak Perlman playing Fiddler on the Roof, the second is a fascinating documentary on his life (1 hour and 23 minutes)