Broken Strings

  • March 14, 2012
  • #7793

Joni shares a story about Yitzhak Perlman to illustrate that when strings are broken in our lives, we can still play beautiful music with what we have left. 

Hi, this is Joni and do you know the famous violinist, Yitzhak Perlman?

I tell you, what beautiful music on the violin this man plays! Jack Reimer, a syndicated columnist, recently wrote a story about this great violinist Yitzhak Perlman. It seems Perlman had polio as a child and of course you know he walks with crutches and braces on both legs. Instead of arranging to be seated on stage at the beginning of his performance, he chooses to walk across the stage methodically and slowly until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, bends down and picks up the violin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play. As Reimer describes it, there is a certain majesty in this ritual.

Well, immediately after beginning a concert – I think it was back in 1995 – everyone could hear a string snap on his violin. Perlman stopped and gazed at the broken string as the audience wondered what he would do. Then Yitzhak Perlman closed his eyes and after a moment he signaled the conductor to begin again.

Though anyone who knows music knows that it's impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings, Perlman was undaunted. Apparently, you could see this great artist recomposing the piece in his head and inventing new fingering positions to coax never before heard sounds from his three-string violin. The sophisticated New York audience watched and listened in awe knowing they were witnessing a truly extraordinary virtuoso performance. When the piece was over they exploded into appreciative applause. Mr. Perlman smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow and said in a soft, 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."

Wow! What a great lesson. Whatever strings are broken in our lives, if we concentrate, if we apply what we know, we can still play beautiful music on what we have left. I know it’s a lesson I’ve learned after living in a wheelchair for so many years. I think it was my physical therapist who once told me that I had to learn as much as I could do with what little I had left. And it’s true, sometimes you have to take what’s left and coax out of life something new and different. Oh sure, there’s regret and heartache, but soon you learn that your life becomes a recomposition, a series of new chords. It is truly a process of “learning to be content,” as the apostle Paul put it. 

When God said in the Old Testament, “Look, I’m about to do something new” or when He had Jeremiah say, “I have plans for you, hopeful plans for a future.” When God said all that, I think He had in mind broken strings. Listen, friend, with God orchestrating it all, it’s got to be beautiful music, right? 

Maybe your life is in a place like this. A death in the family, a new job, a different job, a reassignment and a move to a new part of the country, you’ve gotten caught in the economic crunch and you’re learning to downsize and like it, your life is a recomposition, isn’t it? And you have to coax out of life something new and different. Well, I wrote this little book called “When You Can’t Escape.” Can you learn to be content in any and every situation? Well, this small booklet will give you some pointers and perhaps it’s something to pass onto a friend whose strings in life have been broken. I’d love to send you a copy and all you have to do is visit me today at and I'll get it off to you right away, ok? Again, that’s because with the Lord Jesus Christ as the conductor, your new life, although the strings might be broken, will sound beautiful.

Previously aired as program #7081 on 6/22/09.

© Joni and Friends

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