I remember it raining. And ignoring my inner child, I stepped carefully between continent-shaped puddles in the parking lot to get to my church auditorium. I had been told that someone had anonymously left a package for me backstage. So I trudged amid raindrops into the lobby, wiped my feet, thought about the thousand things I had to do that day, and then wondered what surprise lay in store for me.
Backstage, a guitar case with a note on it. I took off my wet coat, sat the vintage hardshell case on its back, and carefully unlatched it. What I found was a beautiful Martin D-18 guitar. I pulled it out, played all three of the guitar chords I knew, then read the attached note:
“…As a high schooler back in the early seventies, I had an after school job that paid minimum wage but provided me with some spending money… about the same time I came to know the peace that God has to offer troubled teens… and I learned how to play guitar… truth be, it was somewhat a rebellious move on my part as my parents required that we be involved in music in some way and I really didn’t want to continue playing trumpet in the local high school marching band. Band wasn’t cool, playing guitar was…
“My first guitar was more of a “folk” style guitar with nylon strings but I kept noticing a certain brand of guitar in photos of some of my favorite artists—guys like Stephen Stills much to my parents chagrin. Anyway, with some of the money I had saved and with another month of wages from my job that summer I bought this guitar you are now looking at. It’s now yours and I would be grateful if you would accept it without condition and respect my wishes to remain anonymous.
“I don’t even know if you play guitar, but when I started attending the church, I really felt “at home”—in large part through your music—and I remember on that first night thinking that I’d like to give this guitar to you… Regardless, please accept this as my unconditional gift to your music.
“I haven’t played it now for a couple of decades and rather let it continue to take up space, I thought it a good time as any to pass on this gift which I always felt was God’s gift, not something I had anything to do with. In that spirit, please accept the guitar as a gift to be used for His glory.”
There was so much about this story that I loved. The fact that this anonymous donor, as a self-described “troubled teen,” was able to turn to music as an outlet—something to which I could relate. And that his connection between music and his spiritual journey was natural and inseparable. And also that he rightfully saw the guitar, like music itself, as a very special gift. [I also got a kick out of the fact that he thought being in the marching band wasn’t cool. Which is true. And I should know.]
My oldest son, Eric, who is the guitarist in the family, plays it now. He’s used it to write music and record his demos (click here to listen), and sometimes I catch him in the music room, just playing to himself for hours at a time.
It’s nice to know that the gift is still giving.