Judy Brandon: Religion columnist
I have been doing some reading this week in an unusual book. We have some of the Foxfire book series on our bookshelves in the den. The books in this group are an accumulation of the people’s ideas, ways of doing things, tips for cooking and canning and just general knowledge that was passed down through the people in the Appalachian Mountains of Northeast Georgia. What started out as a quarterly magazine in 1972 named Foxfire, several years of the magazines were then put in book form and thus the series was started.
These books give much information on the way of life of these northern Georgia residents. I was amazed and fascinated as I sat and dug out information that I doubt can be found anywhere else.
In the Foxfire book 3, there is a section on musical instruments in the family of banjos and dulcimers. This chapter was interesting because detailed information was given about how to make these instruments.
The author maintained that different kinds of woods bring about the sound the banjo or dulcimer will produce. The instrument maker who was giving all these instructions had used a variety of woods such as apple, red elm, oak, cedar, birch, beech, pecan, sassafras, butternut, walnut, cherry and maple. He detailed in the chapter how to pick the right wood in the mountains.
Yet, this author made an important distinction in this chapter about dulcimers and banjos and the kinds of woods he uses to make them. He noted that the wood is not the important thing. The important thing was the construction of the instrument. The author contended that he can make music with any kind of wood as long as he is the builder of that instrument. In other words, a beautiful instrument may not make beautiful music.
That statement has ramifications for many areas of life. We are all guilty at one time or another about sizing up people based on looks, money, where they live and what they drive. Too many times we look at the outside of a person or what a person possesses and fail to think about what is on the inside. On the other hand, many times we can be stunned when despicable behavior, vulgar language and vile acts come out of someone we thought from all appearances was just the opposite.
The Bible has much to say about this issue. When Samuel was instructed by God to choose a new king for Israel, God instructed him: “The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Everyone thought that the Pharisees in the New Testament were the epitome of holiness and dedication. The Pharisees had many people fooled but when Jesus looked at the Pharisees, He saw their hearts. In Matthew 23 there is an account of Jesus addressing the Pharisees. He called them hypocrites, blind guides, snakes, brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs. He said they were whitewashed tombs that looked beautiful on the outside but inside they were full of dead men’s bones. (Verse 27) They looked wonderful on the outside but were rotten on the inside.
That Foxfire writer was accurate; it is the construction that counts. Spiritually, it is the construction of our inner selves, our souls that count. God must be the constructor and director of our lives. When our lives revolve around doing what God wants us to do, we can then be fine-tuned instruments for Him.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: