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Illustration: Service

In his sermon "Blowing Your Horn," Richard Love shares this: "Sir Michael Costa, the celebrated conductor, was holding a rehearsal. As the mighty chorus rang out, accompanied by scores of instruments, the piccolo player -- a little pint-sized flute -- thinking perhaps that his contribution would not be missed amid so much music, stopped playing.

"Suddenly, the great leader stopped and cried out, 'Where is the piccolo?'

"The sound of that one small instrument was necessary to the harmony, and the master conductor missed it when it dropped out. The point? To the conductor there are no insignificant instruments in an orchestra. Sometimes the smallest and seemingly least important one can make the greatest contribution and even if it doesn't seem to make that big a difference to the audience at large, the conductor knows it right away!

"In the church the players and the instruments are diverse -- different sizes, different shapes, different notes, different roles to play. Like the piccolo player in Sir Michael's orchestra, we often in our own sovereignty decide that our contribution is not significant. Our contribution couldn't possibly make a difference, so we quit playing, stop doing that which we've been given to do. We drop out, but the Conductor immediately notices. From our perspective, our contribution may be small; but from His, it is crucial.

"I just have to believe I'm talking to some piccolo players who have dropped out of the orchestra for whatever reasons: pain, exhaustion, insecurity, criticism, laziness, misbehavior. Convinced that your contribution doesn't mean a hill of beans in the bigger scheme of things, you have buried your talent in the ground.

"For all piccolo players who won't play, or at least aren't playing, Jesus has something to say."