By Rev. Everette Chapman
Allow me in this issue to share a story told by my dear friend, Dr. Claude Broach, of blessed memory, in his book, A Faith for All Seasons. It is the story of the “Heart Guanerius” violin, played by famous violinist, Fritz Kreisler. Do you know how he came to own it?
It was created by a gifted violin maker named Guanerius. After many owners, it came into the hands of a wealthy antique dealer in England. Though not a musician, he was simply a man who appreciated fine things, and he knew the incredible value of this instrument.
Having heard of it, Fritz Kreisler wrote to the man, asking what price he would put on the violin if he were to sell it. He received the response that it was not for sale. Mr. Kreisler wrote again and made a very generous offer. Again came the reply that the instrument was not for sale.
Months later, Mr. Kreisler happened to be in the English city where the owner lived. He called and asked if he might come out to his home. Graciously, the invitation was extended. When he arrived, he was warmly welcomed. After pleasantries were exchanged, Mr. Kreisler said to his host, “I’m sure you know why I have come here tonight.”
“Of course I do,” his host replied, “but the violin is not for sale.”
A long pause, and then, “May I see it?”
“Certainly you may see it.”
The owner brought the violin out, still in its case, and handed it to his guest. The artist carefully opened the case, lovingly took it out, and examined it. Turning it over in his hands, he saw the beauty of its workmanship, the rich quality of its wood, and the infinite care the maker had invested in its creation. He looked then at the owner.
“Do you mind if I play it?”
He took the bow, tuned the violin, and started to play. Telling the story later, Fritz Kreisler said that he played that night as if he were a slave playing for his life. For half an hour he played without stopping, and the genius of the artist was matched with the excellence of the instrument. The room was filled with the magic spell of great music, soaring, whispering, sobbing, as the artist played haunting passages from the world’s great music. Totally absorbed, the artist forgot where he was, as if in another world. Then, suddenly Kreisler seemed to return to the reality of where he was. He held out the violin to its owner. “I wish,” he said softly, “that you would sell it to me.”
Strangely, the owner held out his hands, but they were turned downward, and he was struggling with deep emotion, unable to speak. Finally, he did speak. “Mr. Kreisler…I will not sell it to you. I will not sell it to you. No, I will give it to you. When I heard you play it, I realized that I have no right to keep it. It belongs to the man who can play it like that. Now let the world hear its music.”
There’s a parable here. These lives of ours – they too were made by a great Creator. There are within us limitless potential for harmony, beauty, and usefulness. In the hands of the Master Artist, we can be all we were created to be. We have no right to keep ourselves from Him. Only He can bring out the beautiful, healing, uplifting music within us. Give yourself to Him today, to be used as He will. Shalom.