I recently heard a story about a guy who set up a spot in a subway and began to play his violin. Over the course of several hours, most people just hurried right past him headed to their destinations. A few dropped a coin or two in his receptacle.
Turns out, this guy was one of the greatest violinist ever, Joshua Bell, playing one of his most intricate pieces of music on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars and who had just sold out a concert hall in which he’d performed a few days prior where tickets averaged $100 each.
The moral of the story was that people are so busy and distracted that they don’t recognize when they are in the presence of greatness. The lesson to be learned from this illustration was that our lack of knowledge of greatness and our neglect of the things that really matter lead to a life of missed opportunities to delight in the delightful.
Yes. I get it. Kind of.
But can I be honest?
I thought to myself, as I heard this story,
“But dude is dressed like a regular ole’ guy, playing a violin in a subway station!! And the people are on their way to work or school or appointments so they carry on accordingly. That sounds completely logical to me! Why should they stop and listen? What if he’s dangerous? What if they don’t have any spare change to give? What if stopping would cause them to be late? If dude is such a ’big deal’ why is he posing as something other than that?”
Then it hit me. (Geez!! Right as I just knew I’d torn this story to shreds.)
It’s not so much that the people didn’t stop and listen or give money. It’s the idea that they carried on unmoved, not because of time constraints, safety concerns, financial issues, or even differences in musical preferences. They went about as they did because they did not know who this man was. They did not recognize him nor the sound of his music.
Perhaps you feel like Jesus presents himself like a regular ole’ guy begging for change in a busy subway station. Then he gets all in his feelings when we don’t recognize him as Lord of Lords and the Savior of the world. Perhaps you feel like if He would just look more the part and act more the part, you’d recognize him and respond accordingly. Right?
I think, for me at least and maybe for you as well, the issue is not with how God chooses to present Himself. The issue is more so with our relationship or lack of relationship with Him.
Consider this: there was a lady who did stop to hear the violinist. She, as a fan, had attended his concert a few evenings prior. She knew who he was. She recognized the song he was playing. She recognized him—with no tuxedo, no grand stage backdrop, no orchestra accompaniment, just him, right there in a busy subway station.
She had a relationship with this musician and was therefore moved by his presence in a way that others were not.
The question is not what is God saying? Or, what does He look like? Or what is He wearing? Or how did He say it? The question is do you know Him?
When you know Him you’ll recognize Him on a donkey or a stallion; amongst Jews or amongst gentiles, healing the sick and raising the dead or flipping tables and rebuking Satan. When you know Him you’ll recognize Him as the one who can save your marriage, heal your body, and compel that manager to hire you. You’ll know it is Him as he corrects your misstep, judges your sin, and breaks your old patterns as He refines in you a more glorious stance. You will recognize when He speaks to tell you “no” and when He speaks to tell you “yes.” You will know His great comfort as well as His merciful compassion.
When you have a relationship with Him, you will be moved by His presence in a way that others are not.
How do we get to know Him? How do we come to recognize Him and the sound of His music no matter the circumstances through which it is presented?
We can begin to see this happening in our lives when we the Bible, join and attend a local church, hang out with someone you know that follows Christ, pray and ask God to make Himself known to you.
The questions you have— “Why should I stop and listen? What if it gets weird? What if I don’t have anything to give? What if stopping would cause me to be late? If dude is such a ’big deal‘why is he posing as something other than that?”—can change into statements like “I can’t help but stop and tune in. What if in Him I find the safety I crave? What if I just give Him my time and my heart? What if He’s right on time? What if He is not posing? What if He is such a big deal that even in a busy life surrounded by remnants of displeasure, He is simply humbling himself to meet me as I am right where I am?”
Christ is indeed the greatest. He demonstrated His most intricate act of love for you and me on the cross. That act right there is worth more than we can even fathom. Don’t walk through this busy life unchanged and unmoved.
A relationship will make all the difference.
I’m simply amazed.
“My sheep recognize my voice.”
John 10:27a (MSG)