Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Faithful to the End

In 2013 a wealthy collector paid $1.7 million for a ruined, unplayable violin. Its value isn't in its musical quality but in its history, for it was played the last time in April 1912 by a doomed musician named Wallace Hartley aboard the Titanic. Hartley and his fellow musicians reportedly played the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee" as the vessel slipped beneath the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Hartley's body was recovered ten days later with his violin strapped to him.

Historians believe that after Hartley’s body was recovered the violin was given back to his fiancĂ©e, Maria Robinson, and remained in her possession where it was all but forgotten. In 2006, the damaged violin was found in the attic of a home in Britain. It was authenticated through an engraved silver plate which read, “For Wallace, on the occasion of our engagement. From Maria.”

One writer commenting on the significance of Hartley’s violin said, “The Titanic was a microcosm of society, because it carried different classes of people aboard that fateful night—a mixture of rich and poor, educated and dumb, heroes and villains. Hartley and his fellow band members, none of whom survived, were chief among the latter group. What they were doing as they played on the sinking vessel was actually causing a sense of calm on that ship. You could only wonder the mass pandemonium that would have occurred otherwise. Their playing helped save a lot of lives.”[1]

When I read that verse I was reminded of Paul last will and testament—Second Timothy—for in the final sentences of that letter he wrote, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (4:6-8).

Wallace Hartley and Paul were a rare breed because of their faithfulness to the end. Faithfulness is the primary quality God looks for in His servants (1 Cor. 4:2, Matt. 25:21). It’s the ability to hang in with an assignment until you are through; the willingness to fulfill responsibility year after year, not needing to be praised or thanked or publicly encouraged in order to do so; to work unto the Lord; to show up on time and to not leave until the work is done.

Survey the Scriptures and you’ll find that there are myriad references to the different disciplines we are called to fulfill. God wants us to be consistent in our giving (Pro. 3:9-10), committed to prayer (1 Thess. 5:17), steadfast in good doctrine (2 Thess. 2:15), faithful to our spouse (Eph. 5:33), regular in church worship (Heb. 10:25), dedicated to good works (Gal. 6:10) and watchful for the Second Coming of Christ (Mark 13:35).

This list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. There is always some place in the Christian life to start being faithful. Do you have big dreams to accomplish something great for God? I have some advice for you: Be faithful in the little things for that truly pleases the Lord. Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.     -DM

[1]  Per Nyberg and Chelsea J. Carter, “Violin played as Titanic sank sells for $1.7 million,” CNN, 21 October 2013 <>

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