Years ago I lived in northern Italy for 4 months. It was a very interesting time. I was working together with Christian friends who had a very wealthy Italian businessman who wanted to help and support them. (And to all my Italian friends, in case I say something wrong in any of this, please forgive me.) So I don’t want to stereotype but this dear man was really an interesting character.
For one, he always carried a pistol with him. His office building was equipped with state of the art security, especially in the area of preventing break-ins. One reason for this was that in the garage of his office building he had a stable of around a dozen ultra-high performance sports cars. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Lotuses, and more; millions of dollars worth of sports cars is one place where he’d put some of his fortune.
One day he had his Ferrari F40, pretty much the ultimate sports car at the time, which he’d often drive down to Rome in, and he and I were talking about the car. I’d once been a sports car buff but I was delivered from that, rather like a deliverance from drugs or drink. But while we were talking, he said something that I guess the Lord rang my bell on and gave me a glimpse into an area of human life that I had not seen before.
He was talking about the motor of the Ferrari, a 500 horsepower V-8 engine. And he said “the compression” was like 7.7, referring to the ratio of the volume of its combustion chamber from its largest capacity to its smallest capacity. It seemed like the Lord was wanting to get some mileage out of that with me as I mulled over the idea and saw some spiritual parallels in my life and the lives of all of us.
Truth be known, there’s an element of an engine in each of us, our motor. Some have more capacity, a stronger motor, even sometimes more complex and harder to keep in tune. It’s not a matter of good or bad, God has made us each differently. On the other hand, the Lord needs laborers and He needs those who will run the race and finish the course. Some of this relates to our fruitfulness and how much we really go the extra mile in laying down our lives for Him and others.
How do you see Jesus? Was He a really a tightly wound, tense, high pressure guy? I don’t think so. But on the other hand, neither was He some ethereal, aloof spiritualist, given to long naps and endless hours of contemplative solitude. He told His mom, “I must be about my Father’s business.” (Luke 2:49) He said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work.” (John 4:34) He “set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) and He said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with and how am I straightened till it be accomplished.” (Luke 12:50) I imagine that the personality of Jesus, if we can use that phrase with Him, was one of some measure of zeal and determination.
And certainly it was that was with the Apostle Paul. He said of himself, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I but the grace of God with was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:10) Was he boasting there? On a works trip? No, he was just stating what he knew was right, that he’d been given a strong motor with relatively high compression and he intended to be used by the Lord to the furthest of his ability.
I guess in some ways I’m a little like that or at least I can see that it can be a good thing. Paul also said, “…not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9) but he was speaking there about salvation. If you have zeal and a determination to work with vigor for the Lord, you’re probably not doing it to earn your salvation but in plain thankfulness for the salvation you have, as well as to share His love and truth with as many as you can.
But sometimes it takes compression. It takes being able to, in some ways, take a lot of pressure, “rpms” (revolutions per minute), movement, acceleration and de-acceleration and through it all to be dependable and useful in His service. The Lord needs us all, there’s a harvest to be reaped, there’s a world to go into, there are glad tidings to publish and He needs us to have our motors in good shape, tuned up and available for His calling for each of us. And that may even mean we need to be a high compression version that can get somewhere when we are letting Him be in the driving seat.