“Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.”
– Proverbs 24:27
Remember the story “The Tortoise and the Hare” from Aesop’s Fables? In response to the hare making fun of the tortoise for his slow way, the tortoise challenged the hare to a race. The hare knew, of course, he had the ability to beat the tortoise with time to spare. So after gaining a comfortable lead the hare decided to pause for a little nap. Meanwhile the tortoise persevered plodding along one step at a time. Later the hare awoke from his nap only to discover that while he rested on his laurels the tortoise had crossed the finish line. “Slow and steady wins the race,” so goes the moral of the story.
My summer project has been to build a patio in our backyard adjacent to the existing one allowing more space for our outdoor grills and as an attractive addition to the landscape. It has been backbreaking work to do the necessary excavation with nothing but a shovel, spreading sand over the area, then tediously laying the bricks and stones one at a time. Now I could have chosen to be like the hare and take a nap, but that would have resulted in a sloppy outcome. Instead, I chose the tortoise’s approach taking one step at a time.
My wife, Tee’s summer project has been to read Victor Hugo’s beautiful book Les Miserables which is over a thousand pages of small print. “How in the world are you going to get through that?” I asked. “One page at a time,” she replied. So here it is mid-summer and she is right on schedule at halfway through the book, plodding along one page at a time and enjoying every word.
Too many times in my own life I have been guilty of being in a hurry – building my house, so to speak, before completing my work readying the fields. And every time I’ve done so it has resulted in a sloppy outcome. Yet, on those occasions when I have taken one step at time, read one page at a time, or laid one brick at a time the results have almost always been favorable. “Slow and steady wins the race,” . . . wisdom from one who has learned the hard way.