A wealthy man lay on his deathbed. His entire life had been centered around money. As his life ebbed away, he presumed that in the afterlife, money would also be everything. So he gave orders that a purse filled with gold coins be placed inside his casket along with his body. His last wish was carried out.
In the next world it took the bookkeepers a long time to find his name in any of the good books. In fact, it took so long that he got very hungry and thirsty just waiting. He looked around and sure enough, he saw an attractive eatery not far away. “Aha,” he said to himself, “it’s just like I thought. It’s a good thing that brought some money along with me.”
His mouth was already watering as he approached the restaurant. But before he sat down to eat, he was told that the money he had brought along had no value now. In fact, only money that was of any value now was the money he had given away on earth. The rich man dropped his head in deep thought, but could not remember having given any money away.. So now he had none.
As an Englishman of another stripe let his tombstone explain:
Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and just as they ended their applause, he noticed that there was something wrong with his violin. He noticed that someone had stolen the real one and replaced it with a common cheap violin. He was stunned and paralyzed. He went behind the curtain to look again, but it was not there. So he returned to the audience and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have just discovered that someone has stolen my precious violin and left this learner’s model behind. But I want to show you that music is not in an instrument but in the soul.”
Then he played as he had never played before, and out of that secondhand instrument poured music that made the audience almost hit the roof with applause. Paganini had showed them that the music was not in the instrument but in his own soul.
It is our job to walk out onto the stage of this world and reveal to all the earth that the music of the Good News is not in things, in externals — but in our souls.