But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7

God can use broken instruments to make incomparable music. Joni Eareckson Tada

In A Place of Healing, quadriplegic artist and disability advocate Joni Eareckson Tada tells a story about famed violinist Yitzhak Perlman. Disabled at a young age by polio, Perlman made a point of coming onstage by himself with the use of crutches and braces. At a concert in 1995, he made his usual painful entrance onto the stage.

During his performance, a string broke on his violin. An awkward silence fell over the hall. Perlman could not simply walk off the stage for a few moments and replace the string. He stopped, closed his eyes, and thought for a moment. Then he motioned for the conductor to begin again.

The virtuoso played the entire piece minus one string. He masterfully rewrote the score as he went, innovating with the strings to coax new sounds from his disabled violin. The performance was incredible. When it ended, the awestruck audience erupted into thunderous applause.

Perlman answered their appreciation with these words: “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

My son Kevin dreamed of being a musician from an early age. At age thirteen, he had his own electric guitar. By nineteen, he played on the church worship team and was saving money to attend a discipleship training school that specialized in music ministry. He was playing guitar for a youth ministry outreach in Canada when he broke his neck.

His fight for life was long and hard. As he recuperated from his injury, we began to realize the depth of the loss he had suffered. Initially paralyzed from the neck down, he eventually regained some feeling and movement in all parts of his body. But it wasn’t enough for a normal life. Today he can do some things for himself but remains mostly disabled. The tracheostomy tube in his throat makes it hard for him to speak loud enough to be heard.

Gone forever is his ability to sing and to play an instrument for God. I grieved especially hard over that loss. Many times I questioned God’s decision to let that happen. I understand better now.

Each day Kevin awakens to serve his God in trust and surrender. He has created a popular website featuring Christian music that probably reaches more people with the gospel than he would have ever reached with his guitar. It’s a new score—a powerful performance. Sweet music, indeed.

Do you ever feel you are broken beyond repair? Has life beaten you up, thrown you down, and threatened to steal the song God put in your heart? It’s no problem for God. He’s a creative genius. He knows exactly how to take what’s left of our lives and use them to display His incomparable song of grace.

In fact, the greatness of His power is magnified when played out on broken instruments. There’s no danger someone will think we made the music ourselves, no doubt the Master is in the hall.

All He asks is that we offer ourselves and prepare to be awestruck. The song of praise we hear will be incomparable.

Your Turn

Join the conversation by adding your comments below.

How has God made beautiful music in your life in ways you didn’t expect?

by Pam Thorson

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Pam was born at the Millington Naval Base outside of Memphis, Tennessee, the first child of a Wisconsin navy seaman and a Southern belle. Her early life was marked by many moves around the country as her father pursued a career in broadcasting. After traveling throughout the deep South and the Pacific Northwest, the family finally settled on the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) reservation in Idaho. Pam met her wonderful husband during college, set her roots down deep along the banks of the Clearwater River, and happily began a home and family. Pam and Aaron educated all five of their children at home. They began homeschooling in 1982 and graduated their youngest daughter in 2006. Pam and Aaron have been married forty-one years. They have five grown children, two sets of precious in-laws, and two beautiful granddaughters. Pam has long loved to write. She began writing for the local college newspaper and homeschooling group. Later she authored many devotionals for her church and an article for Evangel. In 2008 she wrote Song in the Night, the true account of her son’s injury in Canada, their fight to keep the doctors from pulling the plug, and the subsequent journey back home. Her second book is due for release by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in early 2014. In 2000, Pam became certified as a nurses’ aide to care for their injured son. She and her family have operated a certified family home licensed by the state of Idaho since 2000. In 2011, she completed the practical nurse program at Walla Walla Community College and earned her license as an LPN. Her conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1975 set her on a journey with her Savior spanning nearly four decades. Her love for and devotion to life has come from this association with her Creator. Pam adores her husband, her family, and friends. She enjoys her beautiful little log home, good coffee, the sound of the river at night, and just about any kind of Christian music.

About Be the Light Editor

Martin Wiles is a minister, author, freelance editor, and English teacher who lives in Greenwood, SC. He is the founder of Love Lines from God and is the author of Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions ( and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three.

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