“The Touch of the Master’s Hand” by Myra Brooks Welch

Perhaps you’re struggling with worth—either that of yourself or someone else. Perhaps it seems that person you’re sharing the gospel with will never believe, or that you are too far gone to know the Lord’s grace. I came across this poem that celebrates how God can take what seems worthless and make it new. He has done this over and over. From Rahab the prostitute to Paul the terrorist—God takes what and whom the world deems valueless, those “scarred with sin,” and makes them new and precious. He does this chiefly by giving us the precious righteousness of his own son, Jesus! How much would Paul have rejoiced in this truth as one who was “battered” by sin, that though we once were enemies of God, in Christ we are “new creations. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 5:10). This turning of people (represented by old violins in Welch’s work) brings God great glory, though it confounds the world. As Paul says, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Will you know and rejoice in this power today? 

‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three—-” But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone,” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine;
A game–and he travels on.
He is “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.