Niccolò Paganini was a virtuoso violinist and composer who lived in Europe in the early 1800s and was thought to be the greatest violinist of all times. His technique while playing was unparalleled. His compositions, unique and of vanguard style. His playing of gentle passages was so beautiful that his audiences often burst into tears, and yet, he would perform some pieces with such vigor and velocity that one listener at a concert in Vienna became half-crazed and declared for days that he had seen Satan himself helping the violinist on stage.
Paganini was known to have owned some of the most prestigious violins of his day, and collected a myriad of interesting stories about how he won and lost some of his precious violins. One particular story stands out.
The musician had just stepped on stage to start a particular concert. As the audience greeted the virtuoso with fierce applause, he noticed that there was something wrong with the violin in his hand. He looked at the instrument and realized that he wasn’t holding his best violin. He excused himself to go backstage and fetch the right instrument, and was shocked to find out that his precious Stradivari had been stolen. After remaining backstage for a while, he stepped onstage again to address the audience. With resolute confidence, Paganini declared: “Ladies and gentlemen, I will now demonstrate to you that the music is not in the instrument, but in the soul.” He then rendered a most dramatic piece, bringing the audience to a euphoric standing ovation at the end.
As I read this particular story in the life of the composer, I thought about a particular psalm written by King David, where he attributed all his successes in battle to God’s strength, not his own. He wrote: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Victory. There’s nothing sweeter than being able to fulfill a dream, win a hard battle, or simply attain success by exercising a God-given gift. There’s nothing quite like it. But I believe that as exciting as some victories can be, they also hold a serious danger. We may fool ourselves into believing that our success was obtained solely by our own merit and strength, often forgetting that we are recipients of God’s matchless favor and grace. Although we can rightfully say that our hard work, skills and diligence help us fulfill our goals and dreams, we must never forget that our trust should not rest solely on our resources. Rather, we must remember to put our trust on something that diseases cannot destroy, and circumstantial lack of resources cannot detain – the unchangeable power of a limitless God.
Just as Paganini’s majestic music did not change with an inferior instrument, I’m challenged to daily remember that God’s purposes and his power to fulfill them do not change with life’s circumstances. And just as David acknowledged that his victories were not won by his tangible resources and the strength of his army alone, we must remember to recognize God’s hand and favor in each victory we win. It’s a personal, deliberate choice, really. And I personally choose not to put my trust on instruments that may get lost or stolen, or in horses and chariots to win the battles I face. I choose to trust in the name of my God, whose character never changes, whose plans for me are perfect, and whose strength in battle is matchless. Whether I am in the valley or standing on the mountaintop, that truth is always the song of my heart and the strength of my soul.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author and national conference speaker. Her first book, “Twelve Inches: Bridging the Gap Between What You Know About God and How You Feel,” is now available on Kindle, and paperback at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon and other retailers. Visit her blog to read her devotionals at www.soaringwithhim.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .