It Ain’t Broke

Paul Phillips
4 min readAug 11, 2017


The girls were visiting and the piano needed attention. Funny how that happens.

Months — absolutely months — can go by without a word to me about making repairs to the old thing, but let the girls come to visit and it’s time to see to what ails it.

I’ve done this many times before.

The G below Middle C is acting up! Not many songs in our repertoire can be played without that G.

She says the words and I know exactly what must be done. Not that anyone else cares besides me, but the jack flange has come loose from the wippen and the hammer isn’t returning quickly enough to its original position to be ready for the next repetition of the note.

It just needs a little spot of glue.

Applied to exactly the right place.

It’s always the jack flange. Always.

The old piano is a hundred and thirty-eight years old. It, perhaps, has earned a rest from its labors by now. Still, in between these little crises, beautiful music can be heard spilling from the exquisite burled walnut case of the ancient instrument.

But, the girls. . .

I get my tools and take the front off of the piano one more time.

Why, one might ask, do I continue to repair one jack flange at a time (or two, if I’ve waited long enough for a second one to let go, as was the case this time), instead of taking the plunge and re-gluing every single flange? All eighty-eight of them.

Ah. There’s the rub.

They’re not all loose. Yet.

One would assume the glue, nearly one hundred forty-years old, made from the hide of dead animals, would have deteriorated to the point that every joint would pop loose at the slightest touch.

It would be a wrong assumption.

The glue, for the most part, still holds the entire contrivance together admirably. For the most part.

To remove all the flanges would involve infinite patience and time-consuming labor. There would certainly be broken parts if they were forced apart.

The old adhesive, brittle though it may be, still holds tightly enough and yet, ready to pop loose at whatever precise moment the molecules in the mixture break down.

An attempt to repair the entire piano would be disastrous. And, foolish.

The smart piano technician waits until a repair is necessary to effect the remedy.

Or, in the everyday vernacular, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I’m not sure how smart I am, but I know gluing a loose flange is much easier than repairing a broken one. Especially one I’ve broken myself.

I left all the tightly glued flanges alone and removed only the two troublemakers. Applying a spot of glue to the point of contact between the jack and the wippen, I matched the two parts together in precisely the same position they have held for the last century and just over a third.

They may hold for another century or more.

Time will tell.

You know, I’ve wondered why our Creator, omniscient and omnipotent as He is, wouldn’t notice all the problems we weak folk are going to have before they happen and simply take care of them for us.

All of us. All at once.

But, He doesn’t, does He? He leaves those of us who will fail right in among those who will carry on. And, we break and fail. Again and again.

He knows exactly what needs to be done — exactly which part needs repair.

Every time, His touch — His love — mends the hurts and restores the errant parts of the Body. Often, the restored members are stronger than they once were.

And, while the individual parts are getting the attention they need, the rest of the Body continues to function around its brokenness, making music for a listening world.

Beautiful music. From flawed, broken, and repaired pieces of the whole.

The music is sweeter for it.

He uses broken flanges. And, hammers. And, center pins. And, back checks. And, dampers. And. . .well, you get the point. Even if you don’t recognize any of the parts, you get the point.

When it’s broken, He fixes it. (Jeremiah 30:17)

We make beautiful music together, don’t we? For all of our brokenness and distress, the music is heavenly.

It was when the girls sang, too.


The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
(Ernest Hemingway ~ American author ~ 1899–1961)

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are Godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6: 1,2 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. All rights reserved.)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.



Paul Phillips

Christ-follower, writer, Horn player, curmudgeon-in-training. Recovering hypocrite.