Sunday, July 15, 2007
"Paganini…and one string!"
Today's message at Northside Bible Chapel was on Romans 12:3-8 - Our relationship to oursleves: honest evaluation of our gifts. We looked at the role of attitude. Below are a couple of facinating stories taken from Chuck Swindoll's book Strengthening Your Grip about attitude...
The colorful, nineteenth-century showman and gifted violinist Nicolo Paganini was standing before a packed house, playing through a difficult piece of music. A full orchestra surrounded him with magnificent support. Suddenly one string on his violin snapped and hung gloriously down from his instrument. Beads of perspiration popped out on his forehead. He frowned but continued to play, improvising beautifully.
To the conductor’s surprise, a second string broke. And shortly thereafter, a third. Now there were three limp strings dangling from Paganini’s violin as the master performer completed the difficult composition on the one remaining string. The audience jumped to its feet and in good Italian fashion, filled the hall with shouts and screams, “Bravo! Bravo!” As the applause died down, the violinist asked the people to sit back down. Even though they knew there was no way they could expect an encore, they quietly sand back into their seats.
He held the violin high for everyone to see. He nodded at the conductor to begin the encore and then he turned back to the crowd, and with a twinkle in his eye, he smiled and shouted, “Paganini…and one string!” After that he placed the single-stringed Stradivarius beneath his chin and played the final piece on one sting as the audience (and the conductor) shook their heads in silent amazement. “Paganini… and one string!” And, I might add, an attitude of fortitude.
Dr. Victor Frankle, the bold, courageous Jew who became a prisoner during the Holocaust, endured years of indignity and humiliation by the Nazis before he was finally liberated. At the beginning of his ordeal, he was marched into a Gestapo courtroom. His captors had taken away his home and family, his cherished freedom, his possessions, even his watch and wedding ring. They had shaved his head and stripped his clothing off his body. There he stood before German high command, under the glaring lights being interrogated and falsely accused. He was destitute, a helpless pawn in the hands of brutal, prejudiced, sadistic men. He had nothing. No, that isn’t true. He suddenly realized there was one thing no one could ever take from him – just one. Do you know what it was?
Dr. Frankle realized he still had the power to choose his own attitude. No matter what anyone would ever do to him, regardless of what the future held for him, the attitude choice was his to make. Bitterness or forgiveness, to give up or to go on. Hatred or hope. Determination to endure or the paralysis of self-pity. It boiled down to “Frankle…and one string!”
The single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my success or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude is that “single string” that keeps me going or cripples my progress.
If we’re honest we must admit that much of the time we spend concentrating and fretting over the strings that snap, dangle, and pop – the things that can’t be changed – than we do giving attention to the one that remains, our choice of attitude.