The Touch Of the Master’s Plan


Who hasn’t heard, or read, or seen a rendition of Myra Welch’s “Touch of the Master’s Hand”. It reads:

T’was battered and scarred, and the auctioneer

Thought it scarcely worth his while

To waste much time on the old violin,

But held it up with a smile.

“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,

“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”

“A dollar, 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,

From the room, far back, a grey haired man

Came forward and picked up the bow;

Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,

And tightening the loose strings,

He played a melody pure and sweet

As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,

With a voice that was quiet and low,

Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”

And he held it up with the bow.

“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?

Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?

Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice;

And going and gone,” said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,

“We do not quite understand

What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply:

“The touch of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,

And battered and scarred with sin,

Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,

Much like the old violin.

A “mess of potage,” a glass of wine;

A game, and he travels on.

He is “going” once, and “going” twice,

He’s “going” and almost “gone.”

But the Master comes and the foolish crowd

Never can quite understand

The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought

By the touch of the Master’s hand.

It was Ms. Welch’s poem that came to mind on a cold bright wintry Sunday morning many years ago. I had taken my twelve-year-old Sunday School class to a local nursing home where we had regularly been visiting an older man who had no family. My class and I walked across the street from the chapel to visit him for the last time as I was moving the next week. It was December and the nursing home was in full regal. The tinsel and decorations were up and Christmas music filled the air. My class and I sat and talked with our friend for a while and then we gave him some gifts. He graciously accepted them then motioned to me to follow him to his room as he had a gift for us. My class of about ten youth and I piled into his tiny cramped room. The old man went directly to his small closet and pulled out, to my amazement, a violin. It was old and looked to be in need of repair. He smiled and started to tune it. I guess I had read Ms. Welch’s story too often, because my mind started to conjure up images of this old man playing the violin like a professional. This was going to be a special treat, I thought.

Then he placed the violin under his chin and started to play. The notes didn’t float nor sound in tune, but they squeaked and pitched and fought the air. I grimaced! “Yikes”, I remember thinking. But the longer he played the more recognizable the song became. He was playing “I am a Child of God”. I don’t know what happened next for sure, but I think the master’s hand passed right over that violin and touched something much more important; my heart! As I watched the old man’s face shine, and listened to the rendition of that Hymn on his violin, the caustic sound transformed into a perfect melody. I’ve heard and sung that hymn thousands of times over my lifetime. But only once have I experienced such power and beauty in its performance as I did that day. His performance reminded me that the “master’s” plan is all about worshipping Him, which is usually done by serving our fellowmen. What did the Savior teach us? “…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40) What I learned that day was that sometimes the “least of these my brethren”, end up teaching us powerful lessons about the attributes of Jesus Christ. I am sure that old gentleman has long since left this earth. But his performance has lingered in my heart to this day, a testimony that the smallest gifts of service can last long after we have departed this life and that no matter who we are, we can always be an instrument in the hands of the Lord by touching others lives through his master plan!


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