I was recently told about an article titled “Lost and Found” by Jill Carattini. She told this story:
A nurse named Melanie was on her way to work when something in the trash bin caught her eye. She was immediately taken with the possibilities in the discarded treasure. It was a cello, slightly cracked in several places, but nonetheless a discard of great character, a piece quite charming to the eye. Her boyfriend, who is a cabinetmaker, also saw the cello’s potential. Together they thought it could be turned into a beautifully distinctive CD holder.
At first glimpse, this story seems to evoke a mantra commonly upon artist’s and antique-hunter’s minds alike: “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”
The discarded cello was indeed old and it in fact had really been abandoned, though authorities are not sure why or how it ended up in the trash that day. But a most shocking revelation to the nurse (and possibly to the thief as well) was the fact that it was not merely an old cello. It is a one of only 60 like it in the world, made by master craftsman Antonio Stradivari in 1684. The 320-year-old masterpiece, valued at 3.5 million dollars, was stolen from a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra just weeks before it sat rescued in Melanie’s apartment with dreams of becoming a CD holder.
In the music world, “Stradivarius” is an untouchable description. Neither scientist nor musician understand the difference between the voice of a Stradivarius versus the voice of modern violins and cellos, but the distinction is real–and costly. They are the most sought after musical instruments in the world–works of art in their own right–coveted by collectors and players alike. To be in the presence of a Stradivarius is to be in the presence of something great–whether it is recognized or not.
What I find so compelling about this story is that Melanie knew for sure that she had found a treasure (and there are countless people overwhelmed with thanksgiving that she felt this way). She saved a magnum opus from landing in a truck of garbage because she saw the potential in a piece of trash. But she had no idea how true her thought actually was, until reports of the missing cello transfigured the precious masterwork before her eyes.
I’m afraid that far too many people are caught in the same trap. Like that discarded chello, we don’t often understand or appreciate our own potential.
Living in a world of sin, we get discouraged. The confusion of voices and opinions, and especially the lies that the evil one perpetuates, would have us believe about ourselves that we are of little value. We aspire to be a CD case, when we have been offered the opportunity to be able to be a untouchable Stradivarius by comparison.
There was One who saw that value in each of us. Jesus the Christ lived above the reproach of sin, and yet willingly took our sins upon Himself, suffering the incalculable pain that came with that. He did it in the purest of charitable love for us. He “paid the price” for our sins, making it possible for us to be justified before God in this life, and eventually to be sanctified in the next. He snatched us from the garbage can where we were found, and paid the owner for the cost of our repairs. “For ye are bought with a price,” said the Apostle Paul. “Therefore,” he advised, in appreciation you should “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
There are a good portion in the world who have not been taught this truth. For them, they are not accountable for knowledge not given to them. Yet there are many people who do know. They often live life as if they were not aware. If they were aware, they act as if they are not concerned by it.
Don’t be one of those people!
Recognize your value, as one redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God. Live your life in a way that demonstrates to your Master that you appreciate and value His effort to restore you to your potential.
Those that would have you believe that you are less than the magnum opus of a Master Craftsman capable of producing the grandest melodies in the world, would instead encourage you to hold the plastic duplication of lesser notes. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).
1 thought on “Valuable Merchandise”
I like this thought too, in context of recognizing the value of things.
“We are blessed with both ancient and modern scripture. All men and women have access to the Old and New Testaments, but to that the restored gospel adds hundreds and hundreds of pages of additional revealed testimony. Furthermore, there are the uncanonized but equally prophetic statements of … successive, living prophets covering these  years of our own dispensation. We cannot but wonder what frenzy the world would experience if a chapter of the Book of Mormon or a section of the Doctrine and Covenants or a conference address by President Spencer W. Kimball were to be discovered by some playful shepherd boy in an earthen jar near the Dead Sea caves of Qumran. The beneficiaries would probably build a special shrine in Jerusalem to house it, being very careful to regulate temperatures and restrict visitors. They would undoubtedly protect against earthquakes and war. Surely the edifice would be as beautiful as the contents would be valuable; its cost would be enormous, but its worth would be incalculable. Yet for the most part we have difficulty giving away copies of sacred scripture much more startling in their origin. Worse yet, some of us, knowing of the scriptures, have not even tried to share them, as if an angel were an every-day visitor and a prophet just another man in the street. We forget that our fathers lived for many centuries without priesthood power or prophetic leadership, and ‘dark ages’ they were indeed.” – Jeffery R. Holland, “Belonging: A View of Membership,” Ensign Magazine, April 1980.