Not long ago a friend and I were pondering the mystery of how Christ opens our hearts to His strength in our weaknesses, how He transforms us in the deepest of places. From that pondering came a story, an allegory from my own past.
May Jesus bless you as you read the story of my heart hidden in Him.
The worn-out case sat in the corner of the thrift store, hiding a treasure. But the treasure within did not look like something that was worth winning. Both the case and the treasure spoke only of older days and weakness. And yet, the teenage construction worker eagerly paid his $10 for the gift to take home to his little sister. He had been sweating in the heat as he learned a trade with the Amish workmen. So when they invited him to pause for a rest inside the consignment store, he was grateful for the respite. The urgency to buy the old case surprised him. And yet he could not resist the urging, as if the treasure inside was calling out to him.
When the sister opened the case, the tarnished keys and fittings sparkled in her eyes. She could not see the dust or the years of neglect that others saw. She only saw the gift and the treasure that others missed. The parents sent the treasure to an old workman, asking if it was worth repairing. He vowed he would do his best, but the treasure was mostly beyond saving even in his expert eyes.
And yet, when the sister received back the treasure her heart began to sing. As she lifted the instrument to her lips, all her heart was released through those keys and pads and the wooden reed. She won contests, she played solos, and she sat alone in her room lifting her heart to the maker of all music through the treasure. The conductor was amazed at the music she could pour forth when even he could not produce a sound from its depths. But she knew.
The treasure was a gift just for her.
The years rolled by and the sparkle of others next to her began to dim her eyes to the beauty of her own treasure. The sister heard of a newer version and laid aside her treasure. She took up what she thought was expected of her: glittering outer shells and physical strength of her own. Wasn’t that what everyone else wanted anyway?
But her heart missed the days of pure inner beauty. The song now lay muffled somewhere deep in her soul.
The sister wore the masks of outer glitter and strength, even as she protested and spoke aloud for the need to be unmasked. She could not see that she still wore the mask herself.
The years continued to roll, and one breaking after another began to peel away layers of the mask. One by one, portions of her ability to be strong and to fix those other mask-bearers around her fell away. The weakness in her deep places began to be uncovered, and she found peace in leaning on her Maker’s chest alone. She asked the Maker to smash those masks. She cried that she did not want that outer glimmer any longer.
How could it be? Even as she had cried out to the Maker to take away the mask, she still despised the place of weakness she saw in herself. Instead of seeing the hidden treasure within, she saw only the slow, heavy ways of her outer weakness. She heard the music of that treasure echoing in her heart, but it was barely to be recognized it was so faint. She got up and tried to walk in the old outer strength, hearing those other voices naming her the strong one again. And yet, more and more that strength had begun to fail her.
Until the day the outer strength was finally broken. It was then she heard His music loud and clear: the Maker’s song, calling out to her. She wanted to sing with Him, but she missed the old strength. When she looked for that mask it was gone, the Maker had heard her cry and smashed it to bits so small that even if she had tried, it could never be pieced together again. She sat in her weakness and looked up to where the music seemed to swell beyond understanding. The Maker was asking her to rise with Him, to soar above the weakness.
And she cried. She knew her strength could never lift her high enough to soar with Him. And yet, He was scooping her up. From within the very place of weakness, He was carrying her to the soaring place, and singing for her. It was all the same music.
The sound of her treasure, the weakest of instruments, was joined with the Maker of ALL.
His song given for her.
The treasure had been HIM all along. Uncovered and unmasked, the beauty of His singing was clear now, as she sang from the treasure within.
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:30 NIV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
That sister was me, (as you probably guessed,) and the teenage construction worker was my older brother, the youngest of 3 older brothers. He found a clarinet in the dim recesses of a thrift store. Recently, I have thought about that gift of music and my older brothers who loved me through all of the changes in my life. All three of them saw gifts within me that I never saw in myself. When I thought that all they could see was the “baby of the family” striving so hard to be strong like them, they were actually watching over me and caring in a way that no one else could.
God had allowed their caring to give me a picture of the One who cares for me in the deepest way possible. Even as I finish this post from within the middle of a pain-filled flare that has rendered my typing down to one-handed pecking, HE sees the beauty of a heart that has found HIS strength to be what I truly need.
Is the Maker of ALL beckoning to you today?
Are there treasures in your heart that only HE can uncover?
Would you join me in prayer?
Dear Maker of All,
Thank You for creating us with such longing to bring us into Your very plans and purposes. Thank You for planting within each one of us the gifts and treasures that are timeless and full of Your Glory. Would You open our eyes to see the glory hidden inside? Would You wash our eyes to be able to see the washing of our souls that You have accomplished through Your own sacrifice? We ask You to tear down those masks and those walls that we have thought we needed to survive. Show us the beauty of being saved and rescued by YOU, the beauty of letting YOUR power shine in our weaknesses. Stir up Your praise song from the deepest of wells within our hearts.
In the Name of Jesus, Your Son, we pray,
(Clarinet photo credit of Adam Cai on Unsplash.)
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