Jim Reeves recorded a song “The Blizzard” in 1961 about a man and his horse trying to get home in a blizzard. The horse had grown tired and cold, and wanted to stop, but the man knew that to stop would mean death for both. Finally, just one hundred yards from home the man gave in to the tired animal and stopped to rest. The next morning the man and his horse were found frozen to death where they had stopped to rest – one hundred yards from “Mary Ann” (home).
On the walls of a university is written: “On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest, and resting, died.”
It is sad to think how frequently those who are running the Christian race sit down to rest just at the dawn of victory. I wonder how many in the judgment will be condemned because they stopped to rest, because they gave up, because they discontinued living the Christian life too soon. Jesus said we are to remain faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10). The Hebrew writer admonished, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:1-3). As one who has run a race on more than one occasion, it is easy to quit. Tiredness creeps in, then exhaustion. We wonder if running is worth it. Our bodies are crying for us to stop. And it is so easy, though we may be closer to the goal than we ever imagined.
What we have said about the body also applies to the spirit. If we are not feeding our spirit with the word of God; if we are not exercising our faith by living out what we learn from the word, we will grow discouraged and want to quit. The job of teaching the lost seems so big! Trying to bring back erring brothers and sisters is discouraging. Trying to help those in need is a big job, and when we really try to help, it becomes discouraging as well, because it means that these must learn how to do things differently if they would do better. Our patience wears thin, and we want to quit.
Sometimes it is as easy to quit when it comes to faithful service for our Lord. The need for faithfulness is much more than just attending services. It is more than giving what we have been prospered. Faithfulness in serving our Lord and Master means doing the Father’s commands, no matter what they are. Faithfulness means that we see the opportunities before us and seek to take advantage of them. It is encouraging the weak. It is lovingly challenging the wayward and encouraging them to come home. It is walking beside someone who is weak and giving them the encouragement, they need to keep going.
“After all the of the excuses for not living faithful to the Lord are presented and laid bare, it boils down to a lack of desire. We can be steadfast; we can be faithful if we really want to. Henry Ward Beecher said, “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will and the other from a strong won’t.” Ken Hubbard stated, “There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier, save our inherent weakness of purpose.”
Borrowed and Adapted from the Exhorter 5/6/1984
Everybody needs a shot in the arm occasionally and that is exactly what the author of Hebrews is doing in Hebrews 12:1-3 (see above in former article). KEEP ON KEEPING ON is the rule of success in the Christian life.
Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s had a favorite homily: “Press on: nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent in human endeavor.”
Mac Layton said it well in his book How To Build a Great Church:
No matter what else we may have in the work of the Lord’s church, it is strong determination, faith and plain old “gumption” which makes it possible. How many times have we seen it, not just in the story Tortoise and the Hare, but in all of life, that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. There is an unweighable quality, an immeasurable, unseen value, that so often overrides all other shortcomings, and that is the will to win. Many a football team, outmanned and outsized, yet by grit and determination, wins the game. A little church, with a keen sense of mission and a determination to grow, will beat the big churches with their buildings, money and talents, yet with little desire to grow, every time!
We must believe that we can succeed in the Lord’s work. But not only that, we must believe it with all our hearts. The diamond is the hardest substance known to man, ye by a concentrated electrical force, it can be broken and cut. The fierceness of the heat melts iron ore and make possible the formation and usefulness of steel. So concentrated aim, an invincible purpose, moves the church forward!
… We must come to believe in greater achievements. We must formulate the decision we can do it with God’s grace and power on our side. No matter what our limits are in the church (location, money, buildings, age, opposition, competition or whatever), we can still do our very best with what God has given us! (P 24)
To live a faithful life — perseverance! To build a great church — perseverance! “Indeed, we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11
Michael W Burns
Goodlettsville, TN Via TRUE LIGHT Shackle Island Church of Christ
Go to the Bible as an auditor, not an editor.
When the church stops seeking the lost, it is lost.
Never kick a person when he is down. You can’t tell how big he will be when he gets up.