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Doing the Best with What You Have

"Then the LORD said to him [Moses], 'What is that in your hand?'"1

The following story appeared in The Houston Chronicle. I have since learned that this is reported to be an urban legend and may not be true. However, as a parable it has a message in that all of us need to do the best we can with what we have.

On November 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, performed a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. Itzhak was stricken with polio as a child; has braces on both legs and has to use two crutches to help him walk, so it is quite a chore for him to come onto any stage.

Barely had he started his concert when one of the strings on his violin broke. The snap was so loud, there was no mistake among the audience as to what happened. Instead of the arduous task of leaving the stage to change the broken string or get another violin, Itzhak "waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. You could see him modulating, changing, and recomposing the piece in his head….

"When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering; doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done. He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said, not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone, 'You know, sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.'"2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to give life my best shot with what I have and use it to the best of my ability for your glory—and not worry about what I don't have. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Exodus 4:2 (NIV).
2. Jack Riemer, The Houston Chronicle.

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All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.