That Old Clunker Piano

Monday, May 7, 2018
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "May The Mind Of Christ My Saviour"1 (Lyrics)

Ephesians 3:20 – [God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (NIV)

It looked rather decrepit, past its best-before date — that vintage Heintzman piano in the sanctuary. Several keys were unplayable. To make this glaringly obvious, permanent X's were scribbled on each broken key, perhaps by a child who saw the piano as a lost cause. Yet in truth, you can't assess a piano's usefulness by its appearance — especially century-old pianos, and especially Heintzmans!

I was curious about the old clunker's potential. But that morning, I was there to fill the pulpit, not the piano bench. I was there to provide spiritual nourishment. Some may have felt like that aging piano — with broken, wearing parts, inscribed with glaring X's reinforcing the defects.

In truth, decrepit pianos and people alike can be surprisingly useful through the touch of skilled hands. That's a spiritual truth: God can do immeasurably more with us than we imagine.

A piano teacher once said to me, "A skilled pianist can make any piano sound great, even a bad one." She certainly proved her claim. As a concert pianist, she was often invited to humble venues with decrepit pianos. She never complained. She graciously sat on the bench, and away she went. Her fingers would draw out amazingly beautiful sounds, even on old clunkers. She was not among those who insisted on the finest, perfectly tuned instruments. Her mission was to bring gladness to the people and to her God — even in remote parts of the world.

I did eventually play the old clunker and enliven it with joyful sounds to accompany happy singing. As for those dud keys? Well, their absence wasn't noticeable; other sounds compensated. That's how it is when God glides His skilled fingers over the faltering "instrument" of His people.

God can create more possibilities through us than we can ever imagine. To discover this, we cannot leave the "instrument" sitting untouched, lid closed. We cannot designate ourselves as a lost cause or try to be something that we're not. Instead, we can open ourselves freely to God, trusting Him fully.

God alone knows how we quench His potential in us through our unbelief. Perhaps, we've placed our trust in ourselves and our blessings. I am reminded how our technology squelches the potential for musicianship to develop within the body of Christ. Likewise, our material blessings easily quench the growth and flourishing of the spiritual gifts of grace.

One of the piano keys was inscribed with a warning, "This key does not work." But that was not true! It played perfectly fine. Brothers and sisters, we have a spiritual enemy who wants us to believe that we "don't work", who tempts us to give up on God and what He may yet have for us, for you, for me. And so today, I invite you to join me in the prayer:

Prayer: O Master, inspire us to trust You with our broken, decrepit lives, that You may do immeasurably more than we can imagine. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen, Diane.

    Excellent analogy Diane. Thank you.

    What a beautiful message for all of us – thank you Diane for being a good messenger.

    Wonderful Diane.
    Blessings James.

    Good word today Diane, great analogy.

    This is a lovely devotion Diane. Much food for thought. I have passed this on to others.

    Thank you for your inspiring message for when we are having a down day. I was down until I read your message, Thank you.

    I knew it was you right from the start! Good stuff! Thanks Diane. I think I am one of the clunkers but our task is to glorify God, so I shall!

    I really enjoyed your Daily Devotional today. It had a message that I felt was directed towards me.
    Thank you.

    Good morning, Diane,
    Thank you as always for a comforting and inspiring devotional with your own creative twists.

    Wow Diane, your devotional brought back so very many piano memories! Thanks for sharing this reminder with us. Blessings.

    Since I am feeling like one of those keys that don’t work very well today, very appropriate!
    Thank you.

    Dear Diane,
    Please continue to encourage us all to keep playing God’s “tunes” with the time we still have.

    Good devotional Diane. I needed the reminder. Have been feeling very “broken” because my body is gradually falling apart. I know that I can be used to do God’s will in other ways but needed your reminder.
    Thank you.

    Good morning My Diane! You are proof of what God has done, what God is doing and what God will do. Thank you for the devotional! Thank you for the inspiration you give to me! Thanks to God for your gifts or many, many gifts. A reminder of the “Touch of the Master’s Hand”!
    Thanks Diane!

    I WAS feeling sorry for myself! Your great story coupled with a cartoon I had just read were just what I needed to see and hear today. I am going to forward this to our Director of Music at the church who runs a piano museum out of his home and who, long ago, bought my old ‘clunker piano.’ Thank you for the encouragement of your writing today.

    Happy Monday.
    I love your devotional story of the old upright clunker of a piano. That’s what I grew up playing. I forwarded this to my friend as I do every day. At 93 I’m in overload of memories I love to share when they fit. Have a great, great week and may the Lord bless you in many special and surprising ways.
    (So. California)

    Just the kind of message we all need to light a spark in us at the start of another week. It’s one I’ll gladly share with some of my friends and extended church family who don’t have internet. Thank you for a beautiful analogy, one I can particularly relate to as our church organ has a faulty key that makes itself known without warning. It’s been fixed and is now rearing its incompatible sound again. Our skilled organist works her way through and around it, until we can have it repaired again. We’re not giving up on it, as it was gifted to us in memory of beautiful saints who have gone before, just as God doesn’t give up on us.

    Diane, how inspiring. Thank you. 

    Good one Diane! Thank you.

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