If you know me at all, I am a guitar freak. I have loved the electric guitar ever since I can remember and I am always looking for deals. Not like a $4000 Gibson Les Paul for $3000, but a very used instrument that needs a bit of restoration. It doesn’t have to be old even.
One of the best deals I’ve ever come across was a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Firebrand that I pick up for a measly $250 at a pawn shop in downtown Moberly, Missouri.
It was beat up! Not only had it been played and played a lot, it had been played hard, and it appears, probably in a bar band. It had nicks and chips and finish wear and buckle rash on the back and pick gouges on the front. The nickel plating on the bridge and tuners was completely worn away. The tuners were fatigued from almost 30 years of play and wouldn’t stay in tune. The bridge saddles were worn so it wouldn’t intone correctly. This old guitar that I called Wally (the body and neck were made of walnut), had a unique tone, very warm. Very good for blues/rock, jazz and classic rock in particular.
I took Wally home and began my process. I played Wally for a while, becoming familiar and comfortable with him. In the process of handling and playing, I was able to know what needed to be done with Wally. I replaced the tuners because the others were shot. I replaced the bridge saddles too. I cleaned the volume and tone controls and the pickup switch with contact cleaner, tightened a couple of screws, leveled the frets, oiled the fret board and cleaned the guitar (there was a layer of cigarette smoke on it).
With a little tender love and care, Wally was once again a useful guitar that when played by someone who loves guitars and music produced a beautiful tone. At one time Wally had been used to play music that did not glorify God and maybe took away from God’s glory. But now, Wally was played to glorify God.
I didn’t refinish Wally, that was a part of Wally’s character. I only replaced the parts that didn’t work right. Wally’s character marks were still there as if they were scars from a previous life before restoration. Wally was a great looking and sounding guitar.
Until it was bought out and morphed into a Facebook page, for several years I moderated the guitar discussion forum of the Christian Music Place. There I encountered a couple of Christian snobs. They believed that no Christian should ever buy a guitar that was used in playing secular, non-Christian music. In other words, it was the devil’s instrument.
I 100% disagree. And I openly told them so and they didn’t get it. I believe in restoration. That is what God is about. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” Psalm 23:1-2; “The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” Psalm 19:7; “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me” Psalm 51:12.
God restored Adam and Eve after they sinned, God restored Samson after he sinned, God restored David after he sinned. God restores the repentant believer, whether they are coming to him for the very first time, or like Adam, Samson, David and others in the Bible, returning to God after having fallen away in sin. God wants to restore the life that he gave in the first place. That is a primary theme from the time sin entered the world to God’s final redemption of the world when the end of time takes place.
Wally is symbolic of this restoration. As sinners we bear the marks spiritually of sin. Scars, injuries and wounds that we know in our hearts and minds and God sees in our soul. When we come to God, or come back to God with repentance, seeking his forgiveness (and he is faithful and just and will forgive – 1 John 1:9), the wounds are healed and scars like the one on my hand from whittling with my scout knife are there. The scars are there, but healing has come and God has restored us to a right and righteous relationship with him in Jesus Christ. Wally has the marks of a former time when he was used and abused as someone played music with him in bars. But he has been redeemed and restored and is used for a different purpose, to be played to praise God.