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April 2015

Janice and I love antiques. I wish that I could say our boys do too, they have been drug through all too many antique stores throughout the years. We don’t find any need to buy anything necessarily, walking through them is a free museum trip through Americana as far as we are concerned.

With both boys in college now, trips to antique stores are now a guilt-less pleasure, and so when we saw an antique mall in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, we quickly stopped by.

The thing was huge. We approached it from behind, where it looked like a big curio, a china cabinet unusually tall, maybe a wardrobe. But coming around the front, unusually ornate glass covered a small door, the only entrance to the beast. A sign said "It works!" and before we could even indicate interest in the thing, the owner came up and started talking about it.

Turns out, it was a 7 foot tall music box. The window/door opened to reveal a 3 foot in diameter metal disk, cut out to pluck the strings of what looked like a thin grand piano inserted in the cabinet vertically.

"You want to hear it?" the owner asked enthusiastically. His wife moaned and warned us that it was out of tune, and complained that he just loved an excuse to make it go. Now remember, we are here for a free museum experience, so of course we said yes. The guy started turning and turning a crank. The crank elevated weights that would give it the energy to play, and with a click of a lever the monster came to life, the music disk plucking (I guess) little hammers that struck the metal strings of, again, what looked like a two octave piano.

So here’s the thing – it’s all been very cool up to now. The technology, craftsmanship, history, all very cool. But the sound? Horrible. Couldn’t even make out the melody. The piano part was so out of tune that it sounded like the first practice of a middle school band.

How could something that looked so good sound so bad?

You know where I’m headed with this – "you can’t judge a book by its cover," and the like. I Samuel 16 says "God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I was reminded of I Peter 3 where Peter’s instructions to women make us modern folks uncomfortable. But in the middle of that section he says: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."

I don’t think that there’s any problem looking nice. Just because I can’t afford a 1000 dollar suit doesn’t make it sinful. The point is that what God’s interested in is inner beauty, with the condition of our souls. There’s nothing better than consistency between inner beauty and outer beauty. And conversely, nothing worse than a beautiful outside and a horrible inside. Not unlike the music box in the antique store.

The un-tuned music box reminds me that creating inner beauty is an unrelenting task that comes by the grace-full hand of the Master tuner. Ours is to continuously avail ourselves to Him. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.


(Your beauty) should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. I Peter 3:4

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