A work of art is something very special. It reveals the imagination and skill of the creator, produced both for his own satisfaction, and for the enrichment and enjoyment of others.

About two hundred years ago, in the city of Cremona, Italy, there lived a violin maker named Antonio Stradivari. Stradivari was committed to creating instruments of the highest quality, and he took infinite care with every one he made. As he worked, each part of the instrument received meticulous attention. The pegs, the finger board, the curve of the body, even the precise formula of the varnishes to be used--no detail was too small to escape his attention.

Such was his skill that he is now considered the greatest at his craft of anyone who ever lived. His instruments "sang" with a depth and richness of tone that was unsurpassed. Even today, there is nothing to match the musical quality of a Stradivarius violin. And the relatively few of his instruments still in existence are treasured be musicians and collectors, and occasionally bought and sold for fabulous sums.

Yet for all the near-perfection of the instruments Antonio Stradivari made, each has one serious limitation. It is absolutely powerless to make music on its own. Beautiful, graceful in line, bursting with potential, but utterly silent. What is missing is the application of the master's skill. Only when the creative genius of the musician is employed in drawing the bow across the strings in just the right way will the instrument's full potential be realized.

A similar situation pertains in life. Long ago, the eternal God conceived a grand design, a living "instrument" called Man. Scripture tells us that He took infinite care to form this creature to a precise pattern--His own image--breathing into him the breath of life (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7). Each detail was given special attention; even the hairs of his head were numbered (Matt. 10:30). All the potential for a full and meaningful existence was built into this crown of creation.

"We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). His "workmanship." The Greek word is poiema, from which we get our English word poem. It is appropriate to say that we are each unique works of art, designed, and to be brought to our full potential, by the patient work of the Master Craftsman.

There has been just one problem from the very beginning with the realization of God's purpose. It is impossible for us to achieve it on our own. And there is a sinful independence within each of us that prompts us to take control of our own lives--in effect, to wrench the instrument from the Master's hand in a foolish attempt to make our own life's music. Such can never be. Frustration and failure are the inevitable result, and ugly discord abounds, where the Lord wants to hear glorious harmony.

If that has been your experience, let me encourage you to place the instrument of your life in the Master's hands, once and for all (Rom. 12:1), and allow Him to create something of beauty and eternal worth. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him [as Your Lord], and He shall direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6). In the Master's hands, your soul's music will bring meaning to your own life, enrich the lives of others, and truly glorify your Creator.