Things are often shaken in a day but rarely shaped in a day. That is the power of consistency - the long obedience in the same direction.
The series of posts this week are brief expansions of what I shared at the men's retreat on Saturday. I'm doing this because the stories that stir us should be told so they can stir others. I hope that's the case here.
There's a guy named Norman. He's not anything particularly exciting and would tell you that himself. He's soft-spoken and aging, but in the way that he still looks like I remember him even though I don't see him hardly at all anymore. He's an artist, having taught art in the public schools for decades. He was my fourth-grade Sunday School teacher.
Every Sunday at FBC Huntsville I'd show up. As many Sundays as I can remember walking around on the 3rd floor of the education building, I remember Norman in the 4th grade Sunday School classroom. That stood out to me for a couple of reasons. First, I didn't have a male Sunday School teacher until him. And I didn't have one after that until high school. So he was a rarity in my experience. Second, he was there every Sunday (at least it seemed like it). I said that already but it's worth saying again. He was there. He was consistently there. And I remember sitting in his Sunday School class and learning from him. It wasn't flashy. I don't think we did coloring sheets or crafts. I remember memorizing a passage from Luke 2 around Christmas. And I remember his presence.
Things can be shaken in a day. My beloved just returned from Haiti and can testify to that. It seems like it can go downhill fast - marriages fail, kids stray, jobs end, cancer comes, etc. Shaken.
But rarely are things shaped in a day. I think about the Grand Canyon and how the Colorado has been flowing through it for millennia. The consistency of the flow has shaped the terrain. And that is Norman's lasting lesson to me. The consistency of a man showing up week after week, working with snotty and stinky 10-year olds, and faithfully teaching the Bible is powerfully shaping. It's not fast. It's not always easy. It's certainly not fame-producing. But it shapes the souls of little kids who grow up with that sediment settled somewhere in them and write blogs and pastor churches.