When I walked into the upstairs room on the last Wednesday night of the year, I was greeted immediately by the rich, warm, deep tones of a double bass being played by a teenager. His name is Bryan, and what sounded like music to me, I came to find out was just Bryan warming up and practicing to play with the team which would lead the musical portion of our gathering that evening.
I couldn’t get past how talented that young man was. I was intrigued. I’ve heard how tough it is to pluck the thick strings as you balance that instrument, let alone make beautiful music like he was playing. I did my part by speaking to the group that night, and when our time together was over, I headed for Bryan.
I asked questions about how long he had been playing, and what he wants to do with his musical gift. Turns out he’s been playing for years and would love to play in the Symphony of that major U. S. city. Then I asked a question out of ignorance regarding the instrument, and Bryan’s answer gave me my life lesson for that day. I told Bryan that I assumed different basses were made from different types of wood, and I simply asked if the different types of wood caused the instrument to sound different.
Bryan said, “Oh, yeah. This one is an inexpensive rental made of laminate, but some are made of maple or other woods. And each one plays differently, so you have to pick the one that’s right for you. Each person has an instrument that is right for them.”
He went on to say that price and quality were not the determining factors as to what made an instrument right for a person. In fact, Bryan told me he had tried out a $20,000 bass last year, but it just wasn’t right for him. What?! I didn’t even know they could cost that much. My very next thought… which I did not speak because I already realized how ignorant I was on the topic… was that if an instrument like that costs $20,000, shouldn’t it be better? And if it’s better, shouldn’t you want it? How could it not be right for you… as long as you could afford it?
The way Bryan went on to describe in our brief conversation how the instrument and the musician must be right for each other for everything to work was astounding to me. And yet, I had a frame of reference for it. I know that Scripture tells us in Romans 12:6, “In His grace, God has given each of us gifts for doing certain things well.” In other words, God has just the right gift for each of us in life which will make us seem as masterful to others as Bryan seemed to me that night. And within that gifting from God, there might even be more refined subtleties which are right for us. Whether engineering or encouragement… baking or biology… homemaking or history-making… God has a gift that is just right for you. He has a just right situation and location for you. He has the just right opportunities for you.
At the outset of this year, let me encourage you to not settle for an instrument that isn’t right for you… even if that instrument is $20,000. If a laminate rental is what fits you best, then take that and play your way to the symphony you were designed to be a part of. Bigger isn’t always better. “Better” isn’t always better. Put your gift with the right instrument, and we will all enjoy listening to you play the song of your life… even when you’re just warming up.