Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blessings Abound: The Story of My Violin

There are times in life when God steps in and does something unexpected.  Usually these divine interventions coincide with a situation in which we can do absolutely nothing for ourselves.  We have reached the end of our resources, strength, or wisdom and God is the only one who can do anything in the situation.

I usually think that these situations will only be dire needs, and Claude and I have certainly been on the receiving end of God's gracious provision for many of our needs.  What strikes me, though, is that sometimes God doesn't stop at providing for the need alone.  He goes above and blesses us abundantly beyond what we ever dreamed or imagined.

Why does He do this?  Why in some situations does He leave it at meeting the need and other times heaps on blessings for no apparent reason?

I don't really have answers to those questions, except that I know God is omniscient.  And, surprising as it may seem, my knowledge is very limited.  I don't understand, but I can tell the stories and pray that God will be glorified and that His people will be encouraged.

One story that always sticks out to me as a blessing for the sake of blessing alone happened while I was in college.  Currently, Claude and I are experiencing God's abundant provision on steroids.  Just when we think the huge way He has provided for us is "it", He piles on more...and more...and more!  And each time throughout the days as I am blown away and reduced to tears over His great gifts, I remember a summer day back in 2001 when I was left to try and comprehend God's goodness.

Of course it goes almost without saying that God's greatest gift is the salvation He offers through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And I can tell of a spring day back in high school when I received that amazing gift.  But again, the thing that really gets me about God is that He doesn't stop there.  He just keeps going and going on the blessing front.

When I was in high school my parents gave me a wonderful gift - a new violin.  I had been renting one from the school for a few years, and after showing that I was committed to studying violin and had been in private lessons for a while, they decided it was time to own one myself.

Fast forward to my college days and I was "outgrowing" that violin from my parents.  If you are a musician, you have probably come to this stage with your instrument as well.  Every instrument has limitations and some are great for intermediate students, like I was in high school.  But I came to a point where a new violin was in order.

The problem was that I didn't have the money for it.  My parents didn't have the money for it either, and by this time I was becoming more responsible for my financial needs, so the ball was really in my court.  My resources hardly made a dent in the price of a new violin.  So I started praying about it.

The solution was to rent a violin from the university.  That in itself was pretty amazing.  The violin I had in my care was one that I couldn't have dreamed of playing, ever!  The rental, however, was for a limited time and once summer rolled around I was back with my own instrument.

I was planning on attending my all-time favorite music festival that summer, but before the semester came to a close I had the opportunity to play some new instruments for a friend who was in the market to buy.  She wanted to hear the instrument as well as play it herself.  I probably played 3-5 instruments for her but there was one that really stood out.

Even though I had no idea why I said it, I told my friend about this particular instrument, "You can't buy this one.  This one is mine!"  I know, it sounds pretty selfish.  Maybe it was, but I don't think I intended it that way.  Something about that instrument felt perfect under my fingers.

In the end she bought a different one, and that was the end of that.  While I didn't forget about the violin, I didn't think about it much because the price was way out of reach.

So, after attending the music festival, someone I knew fairly well approached me.  She had heard that I was in need of a new instrument.  We chatted about it for a while and then, as the conversation turned toward the cost and my lack of funds, she looked me in the eyes and said, "I'm going to buy you a new violin."

And then, she left the room.

I remember sitting there, wondering how to process this.  One minute I had a need, had no resources to meet that need, and was really just waiting on the Lord to do something.  The next minute I was left to figure out if I was dreaming or if I had in fact just heard someone say that they were going to fill this need.

Within a couple weeks of that conversation I was practicing on the violin I had played for my friend in the spring.  The one I had claimed was "mine" was actually mine!

I do wonder why God did that.  He could have been more conservative with His provision of an instrument.  He is all-knowing, and He knew that 15 years down the road I wouldn't be playing that violin very often.  He knew that my life would take a very different direction and focus than the direction I was headed in my college years.  And yet, He still blessed me with an incredible gift of a beautiful instrument.  Just because He could.  Because He is good.

And that, I guess is the crux.  God gives because of who He is, not because of who we are or what we've done.  I certainly hadn't done anything to deserve such an awesome gift.  While my violin playing had advanced to a certain point it wasn't as if I was some superstar.  I had prayed here and there about a new instrument, but I wasn't fasting or anything like that.  If I thought of it, I just put up a short prayer and moved on.  I hadn't given such a gift to anyone else that I deserved one in return.  And the person who reduced me to silence with an eight word statement had no reason that I could see to choose me to be the recipient of her extreme generosity.

That violin has been a reminder to me of just how much God delights in blessing His children.  It taught me a lot about His character - He doesn't just stop with the basics, He exceeds our needs and expectations because His love knows no bounds.  And what an expression of God's love that instrument has been over the years.  Over a decade later I am still stunned by God's generous gifts and the willingness of His people to be the means through which He provides.

It is humbling, astounding, and simply incredible!

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