Paganini and one string!
Then the LORD asked, “What is that in your hand?” “A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied. – Exodus 4:2
2 Corinthians 3:5 It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything independently. Our adequacy comes from God.
Nicolo Paganini was a highly talented Italian violin virtuoso and composer. He lived in the 19th century. He was a child prodigy similar to but not the equal of Mozart. He made his first public appearance when he was nine years old and began touring when he was 13. Audiences were astonished when they heard him play in Italy, France, and England.
The story is told when he played a somewhat complex composition with a full orchestra. Without warning, one violin string snapped and hung down from his violin. Undaunted, he improvised and continued to perform. Suddenly a second string broke. Again Paganini improvised with just two strings and continued to play. To everyone’s astonishment, a third string popped. Paganini was left with only one string.
What was in his hand? A violin with three broken strings. What would he do now? A lesser performer would’ve probably bowed and walked off the stage. Not Paganini!
Paganini continued playing the difficult piece of music with only one string left on his Stradivarius. When he finished the piece, the audience jumped to their feet and applauded and applauded loud and long. When the applause finally died down, to everyone’s amazement, Paganini performed an encore.
When he finished, he held up his violin and said, “Paganini and one string!”
Can children of the King serve the Father with limited, if not broken, resources? So many of us seem to go through life hampered by worries, difficulties, and broken “strings.” Consider the predicament of Moses. He ascended Mount Sinai to view the burning bush. He had no idea that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was on the mountain near the burning bush. God appeared as the angel of the Lord and spoke to Moses.
1 One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God.
2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. Moses stared in amazement.
3 “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
4 When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied.
5 “Do not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.
6 I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
To his utter surprise, the Father gave Moses an incredible, seemingly impossible task.
Exodus 3:10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”
Moses could not believe his ears. He felt totally inadequate for such a responsibility.
Exodus 3:11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”
But the Father had his back. He said to Moses, “I’ve got this.”
Exodus 3:12 God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”
Again, Moses protested. But the father was prepared and answered by asking him a question. “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2).
Moses’ answer was lame. I have a shepherd’s staff; what could I possibly do with a stick? (Exodus 4:3). Moses’ stick was a branch of wood that he had used to lead his sheep.
Undaunted, the Father responded.
3 “Throw it down on the ground,” the LORD told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.
4 Then the LORD told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand.
Sadly, Moses was unimpressed. Moses’ eyes were on himself. He was looking at his meager abilities and found himself wanting. It never occurred to him that his adequacy was not of himself, but of God.
10 But Moses pleaded with the LORD, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
11 Then the LORD asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?
12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
REFLECT & PRAY
Use what you have in your hand to serve the Father.
Father thank You that my adequacy is not of myself! Thank You that my sufficiency comes from You and You alone. I am confident that whatever You desire me to do in Your service, You will provide all the resources and ability required.
When we consider our own meager and paltry abilities and resources, it is easy to shut down and feel hopeless despair. It is easy to ask the question, “Who am I?” When we do so, we are in good company, for these words were uttered by Moses (Exodus 3:11), David (1 Samuel 18:18), and Job (Job 9:14).
The Father’s greatness outweighs our meager circumstances. Consider Moses when he first climbed Mount Sinai. What did he bring with him? His clothing, sandals, a shepherd’s staff, and burning curiosity. That was all. That was the sum of all that Moses had. Humanly speaking, his assets were indeed meager and paltry. The Father saw something entirely different! He did not see Moses’ limited human resources. The Father saw Moses’ resources + God’s resources.
Exodus 4:2 Then the LORD asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.
Moses had nothing more than a stick, the branch of a tree. How could he possibly carry out the mission the Father was sending him on? How can he fight the Egyptians armed with swords, spears, and chariots (the most powerful weapons of his day) with a stick?
For the Father, it was not a problem! Somehow, merely saying a few words, the Father infused the stick with the almighty power of God. It was no longer a mere shepherd’s staff. It was now the rod of God (Exodus 4:2-17)!
© Dr. H 2022