Share this story

 | By Sister Ann Shield

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

When I was about 9 or 10, I was asked to memorize the poem “Touch of the Master’s Hand.” It tells the tale of a battered old violin being auctioned – the auctioneer originally asks for $3, but ups the price to $1,000 after an old man steps forward to play beautiful music on it. When the crowd asks, “‘What changed its worth?’ Swift came the reply. ‘The touch of the master’s hand!’”

I have never had any occasion to use that poem formally. But, recently, I received a letter from a woman in prison. She had received from a friend a copy of my article on forgiveness and wrote to me about her life and her difficult circumstances … I began to pray for her. This morning, when I awoke, that poem, dormant in my brain for 60 years, came to life. I realized that God was inspiring me and urging me to speak to her and to all of you who read this column of the immense love God has for us – even when we have been guilty of serious sin.

Many of you reading this article have known the terrible mistakes we can make – and deeply regret. We can harbor the wrong done to us that causes us to become hard and sour and bitter. Either serious guilt and/or hardened hearts and bitter spirits can destroy us!

Jesus Christ died upon the cross to break the bonds of sin and death. We can be released from the agony of our own sinfulness and we can be set free from the effects of injustice committed against us.

How do you receive such grace and freedom?

1. Believe in faith that Christ’s death on the cross broke the power of sin in your own life. Therefore, you can conquer the sin patterns and habits in your life, but not by your own strength or determination. Instead, you must decide daily – sometimes hourly – whenever you are tempted to sin, that you will ask God’s grace to assist you, right now, to overcome the temptation.

2. Humble yourself before God frequently. “Lord, help me. Without you I perish!” That’s not drama – that is the reality of our situation on this earth. We have been given many gifts which can be used to better everything around us. But no matter how great or impressive those gifts might be, they cannot save us eternally. Only God can do that, and he will for all those who put their trust and faith in him daily.

Jesus Christ wants to be the savior of each one of us. But he never violates our free will. He waits to hear from us. He waits to hear us say, “Lord, save me or I will perish.” Remember the apostles in the storm who cried out to God to save them? They were professional fisherman. They had lived through lots of storms. They had the wisdom that comes from experience. But here they were confronted with a storm much too big for them to handle. When they cried out to God to save them, he heard, and answered. So will God do for you in the internal and external storms of life that threaten to “capsize” us.

When the master touches our lives, he doesn’t just free us, but he heals and restores and makes whole. That is what we are preparing to celebrate. Easter! When Jesus rose from the dead and showed us the power he had, not only over the storms of this life but the power to conquer eternal death. The master wishes to touch your soul with a healing love that brings hope and peace and new life! May you know a most blessed Easter this year. May you know the touch of the master’s hand!

Sister Ann Shields, a member of the Servants of God’s Love, is a renowned author and speaker. She is on the staff of Renewal Ministries.