We are in the middle of a sermon series about change. Life change. The biblical term for this topic is sanctification. Sanctification is the act or process of becoming holy. It literally means to be set apart for a particular use in a special purpose or work. It’s about being made holy and sacred. We obviously need a lot of change for that to happen in our lives. God works. We work. And sometimes we mess up so badly we wonder if God can really make things — make us — right.

In the process of change we need hope. Often.

One of the greatest ambitions of any violinist is to play a Stradivarius. Meticulously handcrafted by Antonio Stradivari, these very rare violins produce an unrivaled sound. So, you can imagine the excitement of acclaimed British violinist Peter Cropper when, in 1981 London’s Royal Academy of Music offered him a 258-year-old Stradivarius for a series of concerts.

But then the unimaginable happened. As Peter entered the stage he tripped, landed on top of the violin and snapped off its neck. I can’t even begin to imagine how Peter Cropper felt at that moment. A priceless masterpiece destroyed!

Cropper was inconsolable. He took the violin to a master craftsman in the vain hope he might be able to repair it. And repair it he did. So perfect was the repair that the break was undetectable, and, more importantly, the sound was exquisite once again.

The Academy was most gracious and allowed him to continue using the Stradivarius. And so, night after night, as Peter drew his bow across those string, he was reminded of the fact that what he once thought irreparably damaged had been fully restored by the hand of a master craftsman.

Sometimes I wonder why I am no farther along on the road to holiness than I am. Maybe I don’t cooperate as I should with the process of becoming holy. Maybe I neglect the disciplines of righteousness. And then I do forget the real hope I have in the restorative power of the Gospel and the love of God for me.

There are many reasons why I get stalled in my pursuit of holiness. But I must remember every day, that I have been fully restored by the master craftsman, and the tune my life plays is the tune He is creating in me.

Do not lose sight of the work of God in your life. Don’t get discouraged. No matter how deeply we have destroyed our lives, we serve a Master Craftsman, full of wisdom and skill to repair our lives.

In that, we find hope. And if we have hope, we can press on. We can pick up again in the process of cooperating with God to make us holy. John Newton said it well, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’”