Whether this lovely story is fact or folklore, it has a message for us as we face the challenges of life
The mother of a young son, let's call her "Amelia," read in her morning paper that world-famous pianist Igor Paderewski was giving a concert in their city. Right away she telephoned the box office to reserve two tickets.
She had good reason to want those tickets. The night before, her otherwise- sweet son, "Johnny," had marched out to the kitchen and said, "Mama, I hate taking piano lessons and I hate practicing every day and I wanna quit! Now!"
Amelia told him he could have a break for a couple of days. Then she racked her brain for what to do.
That's when she read of the concert
Once she had ordered the tickets she told her boy, "We'll talk about piano lessons next week, Johnny. But first you and I are going to have an adventure. A famous piano artist is visiting our city that day. His name is Igor Paderewski and he performs all over the world. I want to hear him, but I don't want to go alone.
"How about I take you out of school on Thursday and we can can go downtown together? If you'll go with me we'll have hamburgers and ice cream sodas or whatever you want for lunch. Then after the concert is over I'll take you to my favorite dessert place and you can order anything you want."
What kid would turn down an offer like that?
The day of the concert the pair arrived early at the concert hall
Soon after they found their seats Amelia spotted an old friend a few aisles over and went down to say Hello.
Within a few minutes her son did what young boys do. He whistled and fidgeted and after a few minutes he went exploring. Eventually Johnny came to a door marked, "No Admittance" and walked through it.
As soon as the house lights dimmed and the audience grew quiet, his mother returned to her seat. That's when she discovered her son was missing.
Just then the stage curtains parted
Spotlights from above and footlights from in front focused on the huge Steinway grand piano in the middle of the stage. There sat her Johnny at the keyboard, calmly plunking out the only song he knew from memory: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
Before Amelia had time to think the great piano master walked onstage. The audience greeted him with loud applause as he quickly moved to the piano.
Johnny never noticed.
At this his mother sank low into her seat, blushing bright red and dreading what would come next.
The great maestro leaned down and whispered into the boy's ear and the youngster kept playing
Paderewski stood behind Johnny and reaching down with his left hand, he began filling in a bass harmony. Soon he stretched his right arm around the other side of the child and added a running counter-melody.
Together, the master and the young boy made beautiful music and kept the audience mesmerized through several variations. At the end of the piece, they shook hands solemnly and bowed. Then an usher escorted Johnny off the stage.
That performance became a one-of-a-kind experience that kept everyone in the concert hall talking long after--especially Amelia.
Over their hot fudge sundaes, Amelia asked Johnny, "I saw that Mr. Paderewski whispered in your ear. What did he say?"
"Aw, nuthin' special. He just said, 'Don't quit. Keep playing.' So I did."
Paderewski died in 1941, but the message of that tale is as fresh as a new calendar page
Too often you and I do our best to meet the challenges of our lives, but the results aren't exactly graceful and flowing. We flounder on, playing our own version of "Twinkle, Twinkle ... . "
At last we turn for help to the One who knows us best.
With Him "playing along," our oh-so-ordinary efforts become more beautiful--and more successful--than we could have imagined.
So the next time you set out to accomplish something that scares you silly, or you're at the end of your strength, stop and listen carefully. You'll hear our loving Lord whispering, "Don't quit. Keep playing."
His strong hands are with us always, lifting us, helping us, enabling us to cope. Our task is simply to keep going and keep trusting.
It's as Solomon said in Proverbs 3:5-6, here from The Message paraphrase:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.
I've found that true, although I too often forget to listen. How about you?