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Published:November 19th, 2009 19:40 EST
Lessons at the Master's Hand

Lessons at the Master's Hand

By Tony Graff

Many people have heard or read the poem by Myra Brooks Welch about a battered old violin that was up for auction. When the bids didn`t reach more than three dollars, an old man came from the rear, tuned it up, and played a beautiful melody on it. After that experience, the bids for the old violin skyrocketed well into the thousands, though the audience couldn`t explain why except it was "a touch of the master`s hand."


The second half of the poem describes how we are all out of tune somehow, and our value is lessened by the masses who see us in their eyes. But if we let the Master work on us, the master most readily being the Savior Jesus Christ, then our true value can be seen, always greater than what people expect. 

When I first read the poem, I asked myself why the master violinist didn`t simply raise the bid fifty cents and take home what he knew was a treasure? Bring it home and say to his wife, "Look what I got for four dollars, the crowds didn`t even know what they were being offered." That would have been my first impulse when I see some treasure being sold for little. We call that a bargain, a good find, lucking out. Why did the master tune, and interrupt an auction to have that violin sold as a thing of value to the eyes of the waiting crowd? This was the first lesson I learned. When we have felt the touch of the master`s hand, we desire the whole of humankind to feel it as well. People who have felt the influence of Jesus Christ in their lives have made great sacrifices in time, money, talents, and other resources so that someone can feel what they felt. They longed to sing the song that they had heard, and play the song that had tuned them, and made them valuable. This is a clarion call to everyone. Spencer W. Kimball, the President of the LDS Church from the early Seventy`s through the eighties, described that the Lord always answers prayers, but it is often through another that we see His hand. When we have seen the hand of the Lord in our lives, we truly feel we must share it. 

The second lesson, and probably the most humbling to me, is that we must accept the tuning that is constantly calling to us. Unlike a violin, we can refuse help that is given. This is well described in a humorous tale about a man who prayed for safety from a flood and received a promise that he would be saved. A van came along and asked him to join them, and he simply replied "No, the Lord said he would protect me." When the waters rose, a boat came and offered assistance, only to receive the same reply. Finally, as the man was sitting on his roof, a helicopter came, and begged him to join them in safety. Adamantly, he gave the same reply. To his shock, he drowned. When he reached Heaven, he came to God and asked why he hadn`t been saved when He had promised otherwise. "Well," said God, "I sent you a van, a boat, and a helicopter, what more did you want?" We have been told to repent, meaning a shift of our views, ideas, thoughts, and hearts, so they are aligned with God`s. This requires help in many forms, and comes in many ways. 

Each year, sharing the love we have felt, and accepting help from others comes easy. Every Christmas, charitable contributions increase, random acts of kindness increase, and much needed Christian behavior is exemplified. The touch of the Master`s Hand abounds, and is frequently spotted. Then January rolls along, and we largely return to our indifferent lives, where we don`t naturally think of someone in need. The Trans Siberian Orchestra sums it up well in their holiday song, Old City Bar. "If you want to arrange it, this world, you can change it. If we could somehow make this Christmas thing last. By helping a neighbor, or even a stranger. If you don`t know who needs help, you need only just ask."