One evening, Niccolo Paganini, the 19th century violinist, was performing before a packed house and playing through a number of difficult pieces when one after another his strings began to break on his violin. So, he finished the piece on one string!
As expected, the audience jumped to its feet clapping and cheering loudly and never asking for an encore. Paganini, seizing the moment - with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face - shouted, "Paganini on one string!"As the audience sat in amazement, he played the entire concerto again - on one string!
You may be wonder why I'm telling this story. It's because I've been in ministry long enough and talked to enough of you to know that life is difficult and not fair. Because of life you may feel like you're down to one string. The tragedy is, instead of seeing the one you have left you're focusing on the three that have snapped. I don't have to make that hard of a case to know that this can lead to a sense of bitterness, sorrow, self pity and perhaps even blame.
I want to tell you I understand, probably not exactly, but enough to know what it's like to have been dealt a bad hand. You may feel like three of your strings have broken and you deserve four like everybody else, but you're forgetting the one and greatest string you have left and that is your attitude.
The longer I live, the more I realize the incredible impact of attitude on life. You may not like this, but attitude is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, education, money, circumstances, failures, successes. It is more than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company and cause a church to soar or to sink. It will be the difference between a happy home or a home of horror. It's attitude, and the remarkable thing is that you have a choice everyday regarding the attitude you will embrace for that day.
You can focus your life on the three strings that dangle, or you can play your melody on one and, oh the difference it makes!
We cannot change our past. We cannot change the tick of the clock. We cannot change that march toward death. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way and do certain things. We cannot change the inevitable; Those are the strings that dangle. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
Chuck Swindoll has said, "Life is 10 percent what happens to me, and 90 percent how I react to it."
And so it is with you. Our attitude keeps us going or it cripples our progress. It alone fuels our fire or assaults our hopes. When our attitude is right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too great, no challenge too tall.
The Bible says whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
May that be your prayer, may that be in your mind, may that be your attitude.