"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
While in college, I found a peculiar way to drive my roommate crazy. It involved an antique piece of wood, some horsehair, and a length of string wound with something called “catgut.” I never inquired about the latter.
Every evening after worship I returned to our room and tightened the strings on my “new” violin, and tried with all my might to squeak out the melody of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Mary did indeed have a little lamb, but nothing I did on that beautiful instrument could testify to that fact.
Proficiency was not something I ever achieved, not on the violin. There were many happy neighbors in the residence hall who rejoiced when I laid my violin down for the last time.
I did learn a lesson from that piece of antiquity, though. It came into fruition when I left the residence hall and started something I had longed for years to become a part of: life in the real world of adulthood.
A blissful marriage ceremony turned me from full-time student to student/wife. Living became new again as I adjusted to life joined with another human being. One who loved me, and whom I loved beyond all belief, but who, at times, made me as frustrated as had Mary and her little lamb.
Dreams have a funny way of changing when faced with reality, and bliss sometimes gains a new definition. Money takes on new priorities as rent, food, and the bare necessities beg for their turn from the dwindling paycheck. Children add their own peculiarities to the tune of life. Frustration takes on a whole new meaning, as does love. No longer did Mary alone have her little lamb—I now had my very own to cherish.
The lesson from the violin came back to me as I walked determinedly through the days, days that I felt sometimes stretched me to my limits.
My life was indeed a string wound with a substance called “catgut.” It had no music of its own. It was only the Maestro, who knew the beauty of the inside of the string, who could turn something so ugly and lifeless into music so beautiful it makes even the angels cry.
For it was He who stretched me across the bridge of life and gave me a name. But even then, there was no music. It wasn’t until He had stretched me to my very limits, infused me with His strength, and placed me forth into the world allowing the stress and strain of each day to tighten my character, that the haunting melody came through. The melody of life. The particular harmony that only God and I could make together as the Maestro of the violin plays His love song in my life.
He promises that He will never allow us to be stretched beyond our limit. I believe Him, for He is Mary’s little lamb.
—Kimberly Tagert-Paul, Muskegon, Michigan
Strings of Love and Grace
“I can barely describe the love He has for me. And the love He makes me feel is just amazing, all-covering. Sometimes I feel that God’s love is just like air. I know I need it, and I know it is always there, so I do not give any importance to it. But the other day I went swimming, and as I was diving in my friend pushed me to the bottom of the pool. All of a sudden I realized I had not taken a deep breath, and my air was running out. I finally came out of the water gasping for air. I coughed up water, even through my nostrils. Despite this I was happy because I was finally able to breathe again. I knew that the water was soon going to be replaced completely with air.
A lot of times, as a Christian, I forget whom I need to be clinging to. And I really do mean clinging because Jesus Himself said He wants us to be one with Him. My walk in this world resembles a walk on a very thin string hanging above a swamp.
I often fall, and when I fall I usually go to the bottom, and I get so muddy, and so dirty. I see the people still walking on the string, and I feel like I will never be able to get up there again.
But you know what? God is always there watching, always present. He doesn’t care to just reach into the mud to take me out. He washes me clean every time I fall, caresses my body, and heals all my wounds. He holds me tight, and teaches me to walk once again. And He never complains even though He has to teach me to walk once again—and every time I fall. And I fall pretty often. God teaches me to walk with the love and the subtleness and the care that a parent uses with their baby.
Today, He cleansed me. He subtly made me realize that just as I need to open my eyes every day to see, I need to open my heart to Him every day. And I need to let Him guide me on that fine string.
Problems are a part of life. We will all fall into the mud at times. But God wants you to know that no matter how muddy your life has gotten, He is ready—with a whole team of angels—to tie those strings of love and grace around you and pull you out of the mud; no matter how deep in you are.