Over the weekend I met a seven-year old named Luke. After the 5:30pm service, Luke’s mom came up to me and she proceeded to tell me that her son wanted to meet me, but was too shy to do it on his own, a childhood fear I remember quite well. But, after introducing me to her charismatic 2nd grader, together they proceeded to tell me how he was practicing a song on his violin that he was going to play at another church the following day. (video at the end!)
Now, I remember clearly the first time I played violin at my church. I was 10-years old, and I was scared out of mind! While I had never been afraid of making friends or making people laugh, playing music in front of people… well, let’s just say at that time it wasn’t going to be the highlight of my day. To recap my first time playing, I played ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ I messed up on one note, kept it together with my eyes welling up the rest of the song, finished the last note, ran off the stage, and about two rows before making it back to my parents, I broke down crying. Sobbing really, which of course made everyone in the church clap even louder because they wanted to make me feel better, they appreciated my courage, and they wanted to encourage me to move forward.
Well, move forward I did. I don’t ever remember breaking down again after that day, but it’s now nearly 19 years later, GULP, and I could have never dreamed that I would be where I am today, having recorded one album, with another one on the way (Lord willing), and playing my ridiculously awesome electric violin on a semi-regular basis. Getting to honor the Lord with a gift that no one saw coming, including myself, has been so rewarding.
So, back to Luke, he was six years old when he started playing, so he’s got a good 4 year start on me. I guess I better watch my back. I joked on Instagram when I posted that I found my replacement, but who knows what is in store for him. Even in my brief time with Luke, there was one quality that I saw in him that I remember having myself even at a young age. My love for the violin. I loved my instrument, and so does he. He was smiling from ear to ear when we were talking about how long he’s been playing, and then I showed him my Transformer version of a violin and had him hold it. Then after we said goodbye, and I wished him well with his solo at church, I couldn’t stop thinking; what would I say to myself at the beginning of my musical experiment? What would I say to Luke? Well, here we go.
Luke, God gives gifts for a reason. We don’t always understand the how or why, but if you will choose to stay close to Jesus and love him for all your days; he will take those squeaky shrilly notes, and make them something beautiful. The violin is a difficult instrument to learn, but you know that, and you most likely don’t care at all because you somehow have all the patience in the world for it, just as I once did. Playing the violin will be an asset to you, and a part of who you are, but it is just that, only a part. Regardless of how much others might want to define you with that; and even sometimes you yourself might try to wear your gift as a label, resist the desire to do so. While it is a very special gift, and you will understand that even more later on, it can be very hard to break out of that defining label, that is your gifting. You only want to feel important because of the God you serve and not because of the gift/gifts you have been given. He thinks you are so magnificent just the way you are, and the love He has for you knows no bounds or limits. The GIFT is for His enjoyment, your enjoyment, and created to impact those around you. Remember: the ability to play violin is a special thing, but the gift is NOT the thing that makes you special or valuable.
I don’t know what tomorrow holds for you Luke, but you’re a special boy to be given a desire to play the violin. It is the best instrument there is when it comes to conveying emotion. I never knew what it was that I held in my hand until God began to show me his heart, and then I’d begin to hear what His heart was saying, and then I would play it. That might seem like a complex idea at the moment, but then again, maybe you’ll understand it completely. You have parents who will encourage you but never force you to stay with it, and that’s a good thing. While there may be times you think about quitting, I pray that your love for music and for God; as long as it remains, will always help guide you back to loving it.
Last thing. Learn to love worship. Jesus loves you so much, and He really loves it when you show Him and give Him your love in return. You have such a sweet spirit, so I know that you’ll gravitate towards this, but it takes an uncharacteristic trait and determination to break through everything around you and just show Jesus that you love Him, whether through a song on your violin, or by breaking the mold and showing Him with extravagant worship.
Even though I don’t know you that well Luke, I love you, and I see so much potential in you. Keep running with passion and keep loving Jesus. You’re gonna be awesome at whatever it is that you put your hands to.
Nineteen years later,