This Old Guitar

My Alvarez Yairi DY-77 has spent more than 20 years with me now. My sister helped me finance it when I was just a teenager. I can’t remember not having it to play, and I have played it.

It has been played around campfires all over Southeast and Midwest America. It’s been strummed in Europe, the Middle East and Southwest Asia. It’s traveled around the world, then back to work across the street from the store where I found it that August. It has been played on stages at youth camps, concerts, coffee-shop corners, schools and in countless churches. It has been used to serenade my three kids from birth through their teen years, and has been played by all three of them. It has alternately blessed and irritated my bride. I have played it while people tried to talk, teach, sing, argue, practice music, watch TV, listen to the radio, plead and scream, and I had no idea I was playing it. I’ve been asked to plug it, unplug it, to turn it down, up and off. I have been asked to take it inside, outside, away, upstairs, downstairs, further from and closer to the group. It’s been strummed by pros, average guitarists and three-chords punks. It has produced country, rock, praise, classical (just a little), pop, love ballads, bluegrass, gospel and instrumental music; everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Charles Wesley hymns have been played on it. It has been used as a tool to help people worship Christ in at least nine countries and 10 states over the span of more than two decades. Countless times the Alvarez has stood silently by while the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached, counseled, taught and recommended. She has heard many, many prayers uttered to God.

And life for this old guitar hasn’t been easy. It was banged up by a niece in Delta, Ala. It has been dropped in Germany, Spain and Wisconsin, and the lid of the case closed on it in Anniston. It has been hauled in planes, trains and vans driven by psycho-maniacs in India. It has journeyed silently in three different cases. This instrument has had three different pick-ups wired in, four sets of frets and thousands of strings put on it. It has sat lonely for days and has been played three to seven times a day for weeks at a time. It has smelled like smoke, food, musty buildings and sweaty kids. It has made music through cheap and elaborate sound systems.

I have broken strings and picks before, during and after songs, shows and worship sets. I have learned literally thousands of songs and played them on this beauty before small crowds, large crowds or just my Maker. I have sat alone in churches and homes plunking on this old instrument for many years. Many of you have heard songs played on this Yairi, and I hope you¹ve enjoyed them.

I sit alone in my office today strumming some new music, then some old. But as I put her down to write about her, this thought sticks in the gray matters.

This old guitar simply does what it was made to do, day in and day out. That’s a good thing, a commendable thing. I hope God can say the same about me when I get home. Perhaps there will be many more songs played on this old guitar before then.

“Well done, good and faithful servant!” —Matthew 25:21

[Jeff Nettles is pastor of Rolling Hills Church in Platteville, Wis. He loves the Green Bay Packers, John Deere and discipleship "Jesus style." Before moving to Wisconsin, his wife and three children lived in Alabama, Florida and Germany.]

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