Not everyone reading this blog is going to approve of the subject matter. I realise that some followers of Jesus do not believe that any followers of Jesus should consume alcohol, but the fact is that in His very first miracle Jesus turned a significant amount of water into a very high quality red wine. Despite this, there is significant teaching in Scripture concerning over-indulgence in alcohol, which is as ill-advised as over-indulgence in anything.
But I have a confession to make: I am rather partial to a good single malt. This doesn’t mean that I am knocking back whisky by the bucketful night after night, but there are occasions where a wee dram goes down a treat after a late meal, or as a nightcap.
A few years ago I came across Welsh whisky, which is marketed as Aur Cymru (Welsh Gold). It hasn’t been around long. The distillery opened in 1999 and the first Welsh Gold was bottled in 2004. It was a bit touch and go in the early days as those who invested in the business had to wait five years before they had a product to sell. How do I know this? Because my children clubbed together and made me a gift of a Masterclass at the Penderyn distillery, which is where I have been today.
There are only three ingredients in a Penderyn single malt whisky: spring water, yeast, and malted barley. The process of transforming the water, yeast, and barley into a fine single malt is both complex and lengthy. A number of experts are involved, and a man with a highly sensitive nose assesses when the contents of each cask are ready for transfer to a finishing cask for a further twelve months. Occasionally, a cask may be rated as exceptional. Eventually such casks are bottled as single cask, single malts and these attract a premium price.
I can see certain comparisons between whisky and Christians. There is also a process involved in following Jesus, the main difference being that Jesus does not begin with the best of ingredients: He begins with us. The process in transforming us is both complex and lengthy. Most of us would hope that in time we would mature sufficiently to be of some use to Jesus. A few of us may turn out to be exceptional. But unless Penderyn produce sufficient quantities of the standard good quality product that graces the supermarket shelves, they would never be able to seek a premium price for the single cask, single malt that folk like me could never afford.
I guess that today reminded me that we are all equally important when we are part of the body of Christ. We need each other. We mature at different rates, yet the Master Distiller invests the same amount of work into each of us. To Him we are all exceptional. We just forget it sometimes. Worse still, we often forget to behave like it. Just as well He is patient.
“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:14-20 NLT)