Updated: Oct 5, 2018
"Life, as a Christian, is not about magical success it is about consistent growth."
There’s something to be said for “slow.”
The best things in life take time. Best BBQ – Texas slow smoked Brisket, Best quality furniture - uhhh not IKEA (sorry college students), It takes thirteen hours to build Toyota, and six months for Rolls Royce.
1 Timothy 3:1…6 (KJV) (3) This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work……. (6) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Quick growth can be dangerous.
A few hundred years ago there was a forest near Cremona Italy. It was home to consistent weather and more cold days than warm ones. I can imagine what it was like to be a part of that forest. About the time you get some growing started the cold winds came and caused you to “chill out” for a while. The forest thrived, but each year it only grew just a bit. According to the tree rings, we know that trees that were very old stayed smaller than their warmer weather cousins.
Antonio Stradivari (c1644-1737) is, with his Italian compatriot Giuseppe Guarneri Del Gesu, the most famed of luthiers. He began crafting stringed instruments in 1680. He passed away at age 93 and fathered 11 children. Stradivari made more than 1,100 instruments – violins, but also cellos, a few violas and a harp – 650 of which survive today. His creations were inscribed with Latin slogans along the lines of Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno [date]. The instruments considered his most amazing were made in the first quarter of the 18th century, but long before then he had established his fame with the "Viotti violin" – first played by Giovanni Battista Viotti at the Tuileries Palace in Paris in 1782, and now valued around $3.5m.
Stradivari’s shop was near a forest in Cremona Italy. Stradivari’s instruments are known for their unmatched quality, natural voice, and ear-tingling overtones. Many Luthers have tried to replicate their exact geometry and succeeded only to find that tone was not as brilliant. Others have worked to get the varnish and wood treatments as chemically precise to what Stradivari used and still did not replicate the sound. Until 2008 it was unknown exactly what made his instruments special.
Growing a family, a ministry and a life is a hard thing. About the time something goes well something else goes wrong. Life, as a Christian, is not about magical success it is about consistent growth. It’s not something we talk about often but…. How many do you know that took a step in ministry only to fall on their face, tired to start a bible study at school and no one showed up, invested in preparing for missions and made themselves available, but no doors opened. Young couples who want to start a family and can’t. Being denied that small business loan you needed to get going. There are more examples than we can count and deep and real emotions from all involved. Inside we all ask “why”? Why did God put a desire in my heart for _______ if I am going to be a failure consistently? Some people seem to have an easier way than others. Don’t get advise from them. I’ve heard with my own ears someone confidently proclaim that the person’s failure and lack of open doors must mean that something is wrong with them. Their attitude Implies that there must be a secret sin or improper motive.
I can identify with those trees in Cremona. Growth was hard and slow, but consistent. When you wanted to launch a new sprig the cold winds blew and put a stop to that. Year after year the freezing ice covers you, and it's all you can do to survive. Your warm weather counterparts are twice as big, lush and branching out.
We don’t know the end from the beginning.
A 2008 Study has proven that the reason a Stradivarius Violin sound is so incredible is due to the slow, consistent growth of those poor trees. It’s a process that took hundreds of years. The layers are compact. The cold and stressful environment and slow, consistent growth created a tree who was not as big as some others, but he was solid. The layers of the year on year progress added up to something that quick success and easy access could not. After hundreds of years of slow progress, the fate of that tree was to be cut down. That tree never saw the fruit of his labors or enjoyed the success. He did provide the kindling, with his own bones, for some of the most significant music ever to reach the ears of men.
There are a lot of things we will never figure out, but that does not have to damage our faith. Our life might be the kindling of something even more amazing. I have decided that even when I am hewn down, and the rusty saw blades of failure pierce my side and feel like God has forsaken me, I will cry out “Nevertheless not my will but thine will be done.” I’m becoming something priceless even in failure.