That being said, I suppose I'll always be a Martin man. The Martin Guitar Company has been around since 1833. Their version of the dreadnought acoustic guitar established the model for American instruments, and a gathering of musicians playing acoustic will almost always include someone plucking on a Martin. We still have a Martin in our family, a 25 year old model I purchased not long after I started playing guitar, and which now belongs to my daughter Marie (I passed it down to her about 15 years ago after I purchased a new instrument). Martins are said to improve with time as the wood ages, and Marie's guitar beautifully confirms the axiom.
I share this with you as introduction to a moment in my life, shared with my youngest daughter Emmie, wherein God so revealed His loving presence and involvement that He almost - almost - became too obvious for this present life in which He calls His children to "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). When Emmie was little, she and I often watched Mr. Rogers together. You're likely familiar with the show, and with the man whose soft voice and demeanor, along with a slightly odd affect and demeanor (I don't mean that disrespectfully), graced the airwaves for many years. The segment of the show I enjoyed the most involved Mr. Rogers visiting manufacturing shops or plants where things are made. He wanted to show children the fact that for things to exist, someone has to make them (now that's an interesting concept, isn't it?). Moreover, Mr. Rogers felt that children needed to see the process in order to fully appreciate the creativity, time, and effort that goes into the products we buy and use.
One day, as the theme music began the show - "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood..." - a thought occurred to me. "You know, I wish that they'd do a segment at the Martin company, showing how they make their guitars." I'd never pondered this before, but on that day, the notion came to mind. I think I even considered writing Mr. Rogers to suggest the possibility. Emmie and I settled in to watch the episode, and the thought about the Martin company passed from my mind. Until, that is, the how it's made segment appeared. As I recall, one of the characters on the show held and played a guitar as Mr. Rogers approached, which provided the introduction for a visit to Nazareth, Pennsylvania and, you guessed it, the Martin Guitar Company! (the thought occurs to me, for the first time in all these years, that a place called "Nazareth" provided the venue for such a blessing).
I'll never forget sitting in front of the television in stunned amazement. Again, until that day, I'd never considered the Martin plant as an interesting venue for the manufacturing segment. The thought simply occurred to me in the moment, and on the day the episode aired. "Emmie, you're not going to believe this!" I attempted to share the event with my daughter, but I'm not sure it impacted her three year old mind. Indeed, of the literally millions of venues Mr. Rogers could have visited to show how things are made, he ended up at Martin Guitar Company on the very day I imagined it might provide an interesting tour and explanation of its process. It certainly did, as I beheld a very interesting "tour and explanation" of another process, namely, God's process.
I don't use the language of "God said this," or "God told me that" in terms of His personal involvement in my life. Such rhetoric puts us on the dangerous ground of possibly misrepresenting our Heavenly Father, or of deceiving ourselves into believing that every whim or notion comprises a personal communication from God. He is, however, very personal with us, and I have no doubt of His involvement on that day long ago when a prospect and possibility in my mind became a presentation before my eyes. God became obvious. I'm sure we all have such stories to tell, or better termed, testimonies to share. They'll be relatively few, of course, because the life of faith demands that we "endure, as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27). We'll thus appreciate moments of the obvious all the more, and remember them when our way becomes so dark that we must trust our Lord's heart despite our inability to see or understand His hand. Certainly, I appreciate and remember that day so long ago, and perhaps even more, I rejoice in the present impact it retains in my heart and determination to affirm the truth we seek always to communicate. Namely, no one has ever trusted in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and been disappointed for doing so. And no one ever will. Yes, sometimes God becomes obvious.
"Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness."
Weekly Memory Verse
Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness; and Thy paths drop fatness.