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The handmade collection of misshapen guitars, ukuleles, and banjos  made me wonder. Is the museum desperate for displays?

About half of the instruments hanging on the walls were painted barn-red. Others had obviously been pieced together from two or three different types of wood. But the story of the man who crafted them changed my whole perspective.

In the 1960s Arkansas farmer Ed Stilley had difficulty supporting his wife and five children. One day, while plowing his field behind a donkey, he thought he was having a heart attack. Lying on the ground with no one around to hear his cries for help, he prayed and received a vision of God telling him to make guitars and give them to children. If he did, God promised to take care of him and his family.

So Ed did what God told him to do. He didn’t make excuses for his lack of musical training, nor did he wait until he could afford the “right” materials. Instead, he scrounged for wood and other scraps, using what he had on hand. He built instruments out of old door hinges, Masonite siding, circular saws, marbles, and even an aluminum pot.

He wasn’t embarrassed by the amateurish look of his instruments. He simply did what God told him to do. It’s believed nearly every child in the county received a guitar, each inscribed with this message: “True Faith. True Light. Have faith in God.”

Ed Stilley’s obedience inspires me to do what God tells me to do. No excuses for my lack of ability or training. No waiting for inspiration to strike with the right message. No hiding my work because it’s not professional.

Lord, make me an instrument…that plays the melody You’ve chosen for me.

 Mary L. Hamilton is the author of four novels, including one adult mystery. Her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series for middle-grade readers was inspired by the years she lived at a camp growing up. Besides writing, she enjoys photography and traveling with her husband.

 

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