The Man in the Balcony.

Years ago I heard a story that I have used for sermons at times.  It touched me deeply so I thought I’d share it with you today.

It happened in a small Midwest town, in a rural area.

A music teacher had a young student brought in for the first lesson by a hopeful parent.

By the second lesson the old music teacher was pretty sure.  By the third and fourth lesson all hesitation was gone.  It was a fact.

The music teacher had a prodigy on his hands.  This young man was a rare talent that only comes along once in a lifetime if that.  The old teacher was wise enough to see it and appreciate it.

He determined to give it his best and then pass on the young prodigy to those who would continue and eventually finish the training of this talented young man.

The first few years of the young musicians life were carefully nurtured by the wise music teacher.  The teacher saw and knew even more than the student the potential of this young man.

Finally the day came for the prodigy to move on and accept scholarships at prestigious schools.  The old teacher followed his now famous student, as the student’s career became the stage of the world.

At a very early age the student was world famous.  He had now played all the major venues of the world.  He had played London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Moscow, and Amsterdam.  The entire European theatre had been played to sell out crowds!

Then came the American tour, New York and Madison Square Garden, Chicago, Carnegie Hall, Washington D. C., Los Angeles, Seattle.

The musician’s fame now reached around the Globe.  A tour to the Far East was the next stop.  Next up were Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, and Beijing.

The musician decided he wanted to go back and do a concert for his hometown.  He wanted to recognize the humble beginnings of his childhood.  The arrangements were made.

An auditorium was arranged in the small community where he hailed from.  The night was set.  He walked out on stage to a crowded auditorium and just the grand piano on the stage.

The applause was loud as he made his debut.  As he smiled and looked around he looked up in the balcony and there was only one person there.  Although his hair was now white with age, the musician recognized his old music teacher, and joy filled his heart.  He decided tonight would be his finest performance!

He played that night like a man possessed.  When he finished he received a standing ovation from the crowd.  When he looked at the man in the balcony, there was no response.  The old teacher just sat there with his arms folded.  The musician frowned!

The musician made a decision.  He wanted his old music teacher’s approval so he decided to play it again, and do it even better.  He announced to the crowd that it was unusual, but he was going to play it again.  They cheered.

This time there was no doubt.  He had never played it better any where in the world!  He was tired and sweat ran down his face.  As he stood the crowd was ecstatic.  Cheers and applause filled the auditorium!

When he lifted his eyes he couldn’t believe it.  The old teacher still sat unmoved with arms folded.

The musician took a deep breath and announced he was going to play it one final time!  Silence filled the auditorium.  He walked to the piano and sat down.  He began.

This time there was nothing in the world but him and his instrument.  He became one with the piano.  The crowd was forgotten.  He was lost in pouring himself completely into a lifetime of effort and practice.

He barely noticed when he finished.  He sat limp on the piano bench.  He was drenched with sweat.

He stood on shaky legs and bowed to the audience, who could not give enough cheers, shouts and whistles.

Before he lifted his head to see what his old teacher would do, he looked inside himself.  He knew he could not play better.  He had given everything he had.  It was his best performance of his life.

As he lifted his eyes, he saw the old teacher smile.  Then slowly the old teacher stood and began to clap his hands in acknowledgement of the best performance his prodigy had ever given.

You see, the crowd could not discern the difference between a good performance, a great performance, and a once in a lifetime performance, but the man in the balcony could.

The musician had more in him and the old teacher knew it.  He demanded the best the musician could give to be satisfied.

Some day we will appear before the man in the balcony.  Believe me He will know if we have done our best!

It is not the applause and acclaim of the crowd that will matter at that day.

What will matter is when the man in the balcony says well done thou good and faithful servant!

Have you given your best performance?

Thanks for reading today!