When I accepted a mission call to the California Anaheim Mission, I had to leave one of my most prized possessions at home: my violin. Why? I wondered. Didn’t the Lord realize how much I love to play for people and how music can touch the soul?
One Sunday I felt even worse about the loss of my instrument when a woman stood up in testimony meeting and told of a spiritual experience she had had while listening to Yehudi Menuin, a world-class violinist, perform at a nearby cathedral.
My heart sank as she described in detail the priceless violin that he played, the beauty of the cathedral, and how thousands of people moved by his music jumped to a standing ovation at the close of the performance.
I could have been there, I thought bitterly. The cathedral is just down the street. I wondered where I had been as the great musician had performed—getting a door slammed in my face? Being told I was nosy by the people we tried to contact in the park? Trying to answer the questions of a skeptical Protestant Sunday school teacher who misunderstood the beauties of the gospel? I wondered where I would have been if I had had a choice.
As these regrets crowded my thoughts, I reflected on my experiences as a missionary. I remembered teaching Bob about the gospel and testifying that his family could be together forever if he would pray and take the steps needed toward baptism. I remembered feeling a burning inside as the words poured out of my mouth.
I played a beat-up, borrowed violin at Bob’s baptism. No concerto—just a well-loved Church hymn. No cathedral—just a small room crowded with Bob’s friends and family. No applause after the music ended—just an outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon those in the room. I knew this experience was of much greater worth to me.
When the woman finished bearing her testimony, I stood up and expressed to the congregation how thankful I was to be a missionary. I thanked the Lord for showing me that I must learn to be his humble instrument, not a maestro seeking applause. Little did I realize that the Lord was asking me to give up my violin in order to make me his instrument, not the player.
The words of Alma rang true to me: “I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. … and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy” (Alma 29:9).