Recently, I read about an old violin that was put up for auction. It was battered and scarred. The auctioneer thought it wasn’t worth spending much time and effort on but he still held it up with a smile and shouted: “What am I bidding, good folks?Who’ll start the bidding for me? A dollar;” then, “two! Only two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? Three dollars once, three dollars twice; going for three….” But no. A gray-haired man from the back of the room, stepped forward and picked up the bow. He wiped the dust from the old violin, tightened the loose strings and played a sweet and pure melody.
The auctioneer and the people at the auction didn’t really see any good in the violin nor imagine it as an instrument that could produce something melodious, sweet and pure. All they saw were its scars and brokenness. They must have thought that nothing praiseworthy, like that sweet rendition, could have emerged from it. Hence, they were not ready to take a chance on it until it was dusted and refurbished by the old man.
Sadly, people most times behave in this manner. We come in contact every now and then with people whose lives seem out of tune—broken, battered and bruised. And we think that no good can ever emanate from them, hence we write them off. It’s easier to attach the least significance to, give up on and rationalize that that person, who had lived all his or her life on the street as a member of a notorious gang, is beyond redemption irrespective of his antecedent or what led him to the streets.
We find in the Bible that Saul of Tarsus was a notorious persecutor of the church. He was instrumental to the jailing, maiming and death of so many believers during the early days of the church. That was until he had an encounter with the One who specializes in turning around people’s lives from the worst to the very best and gives a message out of a mess. After conversion, Saul, now Paul, took the message of the Kingdom to the Gentiles and single-handedly wrote about a third of the New Testament. What a transformation!
In our opening story, the man with the gray hair stepped forward, picked up, dusted, and demonstrated the violin’s use and worth. We all can choose to act like that old man by picking up someone who is wounded or broken, and with love restore hope, trust, confidence, dignity, purpose and faith in him or her. Better still, we can pattern our lives after that of our wonderful Saviour who out of compassion came to rescue us from the throes of death and destruction, and gave us the God-kind of life in abundance. We should strive, and indeed make it a habit,to constantly touch people’s lives with compassion.
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