Tuesday, February 18, 2014

OSTINATO RIGORE

Leonardo da Vinci was a man who marked the world far beyond his lifetime.  He made some valuable contributions to the hometown he grew up in.  But it was his drawings that would outlive him.  The principle behind electric doors that are present at department stores was one of his ideas.  The principle behind the lamps and bulbs that have the ability to operate with varying degrees of power was another of his ideas.  I am certain that most people are familiar with his drawings of what he called “flying machines.”  These drawings would be proven true later on as the field of physics and the study of aerodynamics developed.  While some would categorize da Vinci as a genius, from various biographies it is clear that da Vinci had a gifted mind but it was not what many would classify today as an exceptional one.  So what was it that separated da Vinci from the rest of his fellows both in his time capsule and those beyond it? 

It was a principle that is noted very early on in the journals that da Vinci seriously began to write in while he was in his early ‘20’s.  He lived by a principle called OSTINATO RIGORE which means a stubborn, relentless and persevering work ethic.  This is what da Vinci did.  Once he started working on a project or a certain pursuit, he would not let it rest until he had completed it.  This is what made him one of the masters of the world as we know it.  His voice was one of the prevailing voices that came out of the Renaissance.  It was through his commitment to this principle that he allowed science, art, military strategies, and machinery to be forever changed because he stayed with it. 


Most people have a tendency to turn back when the way gets hard.  There is a human side of us that gives in to self-pity and a general malaise of “whininess” that often sinks us as we embark on some noble pursuit.  It is the habit of giving in far too early as the pressures that present themselves in the path of every single accomplishment we seek to acquire.  A relentless rigor will cause you to take inventory of where the time is being wasted or lost and then improve on it in such a way as to recover what has been lost.  If a man gets to living in a zone of OSTINATO RIGORE, he will start to be disgusted by the excuses that has held him back. 

But there was one far greater than da Vinci who spoke about the discipline that is behind OSTINATO RIGORE and that was Jesus Christ.  He said it like this. . .

Matthew 7:13-14 Weymouth  "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad the road which leads to ruin, and many there are who enter by it;  [14]  because narrow is the gate and contracted the road which leads to Life, and few are those who find it.

For those who mock preaching in our modern era, there are words of life that pour forth out of Scripture.  There has never been a sermon preached like this one that is called the Sermon on the Mount, nor do I expect that there will ever be one to rival it ever again.  It was the inaugural sermon of the Lord, after the one in His hometown where He read from Isaiah, that opened up the eyes of men to having some insight into the form and the way the Kingdom of God would operate. 

This sermon is filled with metaphors about the Christian life and the characters who populate its Kingdom.  Here are some of the characters:

·        The Poor
·        The Mourners
·        The Meek
·        The Hungry and Thirsty
·        The Merciful
·        The Pure in Heart
·        The Peacemakers
·        The Persecuted
·        The Gift-givers
·        The Forgivers
·        Those who give alms
·        Those who pray
·        Those who fast
·        True and false prophets
·        Sheep and wolves
·        Builders on the rock
·        Builders on the sand

Here are some of the metaphors:

·        Salt
·        Light
·        A City
·        Candles
·        Candlesticks
·        Amputation
·        Prayer closets
·        Treasures that pass with time
·        Treasures that never pass with eternity
·        Strait gates
·        Wide gates
·        Broad ways
·        Narrow ways
·        Grapes of thorns
·        Figs of thistles
·        Good trees and good fruit
·        Corrupt trees and evil fruit

Matthew concludes with sermon with an observation:

Matthew 7:28-29 KJV  And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:  [29]  For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

I would trust you to understand that this message that was given by the Lord dealt first and foremost with spiritual matters.  He was having reference to the entrance into Heaven and how that there is a very narrow and specific way that men and women are to be saved.  On the other hand, we are men and women who live in a world that is just as much physical as it is spiritual and there are principles and parameters that fit in both of them.  The Lord was clearly informing us that we could be successful in our spiritual walk if we were willing to embrace these spiritual principles and for that matter I believe we can be successful if we are willing to gather in these same principles for our material life.    

If there is one word that could sum up what Jesus was saying when He mentioned strait gates and narrow ways it would have to be the word discipline.  That is such an outdated concept in our times that really has no concept of what it means to delay gratification.  In our get-it-now mentality there are rewards and kingdoms that are literally sacrificed on the altars of the immediate and the urgent.  But there are some, very few, who are willing to buy into the concept of discipline in such a way that it propels them to the heights like rockets that few people ever experience.  The drawback is that the heights will not come today, next week, or next month!  They payoff is much later because generally the man who commits himself to discipline will find rewards come years down the road. 

There is a necessary plan, OSTINATO RIGORE, stubborn, relentless discipline is the price.  The word pictures of what this looks like from Scripture come in short small bursts:

·        Work.
·        Labour.
·        Fight.
·        Finish.
·        Keep.
·        Hunger for.
·        Seek after.
·        Flee from.
·        Follow after.
·        Mastery.
·        Pray.
·        Give.
·        Strive.
·        Press.

Let me tell you what OSTINATO RIGORE does.  It causes you to refuse to have a low aim in life.  To offset the low aims, there is a wary restlessness that accompanies the grace of God and it makes us cry out in prayer and in desperation, “I am better than this!”  Rudy Kipling wrote a poem (The Explorer) that seemed to give sense of direction to this calling toward discipline.  Initially you read about those who surrounded him who tried to talk him into to settling for less than what was available.  Get the picture of this man:

“There's no sense in going further -- it's the edge of cultivation,"
So they said, and I believed it -- broke my land and sowed my crop --
Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop.

Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
On one everlasting Whisper, day and night repeated -- so:
"Something hidden.  Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges --
"Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!"

Work, go after it.  The man who is on the path of the narrow road will warm to OSTINATO RIGORE.  It is an unquenchable desire on the inside, almost as if a caged tiger is fighting to get out of the soul, a lure that presses us to reach higher and grasp for the things that God longs for us to do.  But it takes work!!!  If you have never known this voice in your soul, I pray that you will at some point find it or rather that it will find you, this powerful pull of discipline.  Yet the desire for discipline also has some ominous undercurrents because the demands it has are only embraced by a hearty few.  It has collapsed more than a few who could not withstand the gnawing, relentless passion that the hunger.  Those great souls just keep on stretching toward that shining beyond what Kipling called “the Ranges” and what Jesus called “the narrow way” and what da Vinci called OSTINATO RIGORE. 

But in our heart of hearts there is always the nagging question, “How do I get there from here?”  You have to see the road to the destination for what it is.  Jesus said that strait is the gate and narrow is the way. . . the road that leads to life.  Generally the roads that we will have to travel on will be filled with twists and turns. . . The way toward life is never going to be that of a straight line.  Just as all men have to learn to maneuver and adjust the routes to get to where they were going, the same will be mirrored in our own lives.   But if you will stay with it, with relentless passion and discipline, eventually you will hit a point where you find the sailing to be much smoother than in the early moments of when you began the journey.    

Far too many lose sight of the destination after they have had to contend with a few curves and long hills.  When you lose a sense of the purpose of your life that is when the floundering begins.  You must see beyond today and even next week.  Albert Einstein’s move toward brilliance began when he was five years old and his father gave him a compass.  It was through an insatiable curiosity about the way the needle changed directions that started him down a road. . . He would spend his life making great contributions to science by interpreting the laws of physics. . . seeking to understand the hidden forces and fields that moved the universe.  Marie Curie’s move toward brilliance began when she was four and wandered into her father’s study and was transfixed by the laboratory instruments for chemistry and physics experiments.  Later in her life her road took her to the discovery of X-rays which would change the world of medicine forever.   
 
You know what the challenge is for everyone who starts on that road?  The discouragements and distractions that are forever present.  They will do their best to dissuade you and hinder you from moving further down the road.  Quit, give up, throw in the towel, and settle in for an easier way.  The plaguing self-doubts have to be choked!  Don’t let these nasty voices get the best of you!  There will be moments when you will feel as if you are in a straitjacket of sorts but that is the price of OSTINATO RIGORE.  Early on it feels like it is hurting us more than it is helping us but stay on the road!

Before Mozart reached the age of 10, his father, Leopold realized that he had a special gift with playing the piano.  So the father paired up his son with his daughter and they toured Europe playing the piano and singing before some of the greatest crowds in theaters.  What they would do during the day is go about and do some sightseeing in the region they were in.  But what Mozart realized at a very young age that the atmosphere he was moving in put him in the company of some of the greatest composers and musicians of his day. 

So it got to be a habit with him that he would act like he was sick and beg off from going sightseeing with his family and as soon as they were gone, Mozart would leave his room and seek out these adult composers and musicians to help him get better at his craft of playing the piano.  As chance would have it, he managed to cross the path of the son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach who was a worthy composer and musician himself.  So it was that both Bach Sr. and Bach Jr. would be able to instruct young Mozart.  In the following years, what they had poured into this young man through a rigorous but impromptu apprenticeship would cause him to rise above all the classical composers of his era.   

No matter where you look in history, you can find this very pattern being repeated.  Whether it is the area of music, medicine, business, industry, and education, there is something that takes place when a man with lesser gifts recognizes that there is someone who can help him to go further in his field.  Far too often we are insulted when we feel someone is our superior in some area but what is crucial to learn is that kind of attitude is so limiting that it will destroy any purpose that is working toward moving forward.  The speed of a runaway horse counts for nothing.  But if you can ever put a bit, bridle and harness on him, he can run like the wind and victories are in front of him.  OSTINATO RIGORE submits to the worthy teachers that come into our lives.  What you also need to know is that many will come unannounced and uninvited.  The teachers that you almost miss will be the ones’ who add the most to you. 

So I salute you today with these words. . . . OSTINATO RIGORE. . . . Relentless Rigor!

Thanks for reading. . .




   

2 comments:

T.C. Hadden said...

Absolutely excellent post Bro. Harrellson and one I enjoyed immensely. Constant Rigor...relentless, pursuing, striving, reaching, grasping...so much of the dynamics you presented are indeed the feelings of men like Paul and other New Testament writers.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post very much. It came at a perfect time for introspection on Ostinato Rigore. I have been practicing living my life this way. I am exhausted and yet feel accomplished. This was an excellent message. I will continue on the road!