I Did That

I’m rethinking the events of my day.

No. Really, I’m wondering about the events of my life.  They’re all related, you know. 

It was a good day.  Well, I mean it was a good day until I spent an hour or so in the dentist’s chair, panicking like a waterboarding victim at Gitmo.  Before that, though…

Before that, though, I got to do what I’ve done most work days for the last thirty-plus years.

I got to assist folks in making purchases which will help them make music.  I helped some teachers make purchases which will aid them in helping people learn how to make music.

I even worked on several instruments to improve their ability to be used in making music.

It doesn’t sound like much, does it?  I simply help people make music.

A couple of different people today referred to me as the music man.  But, except for sporadically, I don’t actually make music myself.

Still, the enjoyment I receive from sitting in a concert, listening to students play instruments I either procured for them, or repaired for them, cannot be overstated.

Watching a guitarist in the park play a gig on an instrument which was lying on my work bench that morning brings a thrill I’m not sure I can describe.

At times like that, it’s hard to keep from looking at the person sitting beside me and nudging them before whispering in their ear:

I did that!

Funny thing, every time I start to think like that—every time—I get a nudge from the Spirit that lives inside of me.  And I hear a voice, a voice audible only to me, saying;  

No.  I did that.  (1 Corinthians 4:7) 

Can I tell you a secret?  

There is no less joy—no smaller personal reward—in acknowledging God’s hand in my life, than in pridefully claiming the credit myself.  There is even more than a little relief in making the admission.

If I am responsible for yesterday’s conquests, the pressure to perform the same feats tomorrow is squarely on my shoulders.

They’re not strong shoulders.

His are.

The longer I live, the more clear it becomes that any legacy I hope to leave behind will not last more than a few days past my departure from this life.

Unless—unless the legacy is not dependent on my activities, not attributed to me alone.  The things I do that shine a spotlight on myself are nothing, simply the emperor’s clothes.  I might as well stand in plain sight without a stitch of clothing on. 

A legacy comes from living a life with purpose.  It comes from giving everything you’ve got for something bigger than fame, or reputation, or wealth.

One of the instruments I laid on my work bench today was a fine electric guitar, if not an expensive one.  The owner wanted me to put new pickups in it, so he could achieve a different sound than the originals were capable of.  

He has been working on the appearance of the guitar.  By that I don’t mean he has been polishing it up, or touching up the finish.  

What I mean is that the owner has been abusing the finish on the body of the instrument.  He wants people to think he’s playing an old, vintage guitar.  Sandpaper and a screwdriver are among the tools he has used to lovingly deface the glossy paint and to scar the wood.

2016-06-17 00.39.57-2More than one person stopped by my work bench today and saw the poor guitar lying there.  The work the owner has done paid off.  

Guitarists have a soft spot in their hearts for an instrument that has paid its dues.  A vintage instrument, worn and beaten, but still in service, has (and rightfully so) earned their respect.

I saw the respect and reverence in the eyes of the onlookers today.  Immediately, I invited them to touch the instrument.  

Within a second of touching the so-called wear on the guitar, the respect and reverence was gone from the faces of every single one who tried it.  In the same faces, I saw chagrin and derision.  Chagrin at being fooled.  Derision at the idea that such an instrument was worthy of respect.

The guitar, although very much a real and worthwhile instrument, is a fake.

A fake.  However useful, it is trying to gain respect not due it.  Honor comes with service.  And perseverance.  

Good honest wear comes from years of being held in the hands of the music man.  The hands of the person who knows how to squeeze the tonality and volume from the depths of the instrument.  

The wear that comes from a lifetime of service will leave scars.  It will leave bare spots and faded places.

All smooth as silk.  The rough edges are rubbed away, the raw crevices of accidental gouges worn down to a gentle slope.

Touchable.  Comfortable.  


And somehow, we’re not talking about guitars anymore, are we?

In the hands of the Music Maker, service becomes legacy.  (James 1:12

Hardship becomes blessing.

Disaster becomes opportunity.

Good.  Honest.  Wear.

The day is coming when I will stand before the real Music Man.  I think I’d like to hear His voice say—just His, and no one else’s:

I did that.

Scars, gouges, and thin spots.  

His legacy.  

Not mine.





Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
(The Velveteen Rabbit ~ Margery Williams ~ English/American author ~ 1881-1944)


 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ~ NASB)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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