Tag Archives: perseverance

“Get Back on that Pony and Ride”

Story of the Day for Thursday May 10, 2012

“Get Back on that Pony and Ride”

                  Consider it a sheer joy, my brothers, whenever you encounter different kinds of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

                                                           James 1:2-3

 In the spring of 1987, while turkey-hunting near Sacramento, California, Pat accidentally shot his brother-in-law Greg. The blast from the 12 gauge shotgun sent 60 pellets into Greg’s body. His right lung collapsed, and he lost 65 percent of his blood by the time he reached the hospital.

Greg survived, but, to this day, 40 shotgun pellets remain in his body – five in his liver, five in his heart.

Just nine months earlier, Greg LeMond became the first American to win the Tour de France. Now, his career was over.

 

Or was it? Determined to ride again, Greg got back on his cycle and started riding. To resume his career, he needed a cycling team that would take him. No American team was interested, so Greg’s father flew to Europe to negotiate with the cycling team’s there.

A European team, cautiously, agreed to take Greg on.  And, then, of all things, LeMond was crippled in pain and needed intestinal surgery to repair damage from the shooting accident. Before the surgery, Greg instructed the surgeon to remove his appendix. Afterward, he assured the cycling team that the surgery was an appendectomy. “I didn’t tell them a lie,” LeMond later said in an interview “but I didn’t tell them the absolute truth.”

 

The final leg of the Tour de France is a fifteen mile time trial. In 1989, Laurent Fignon of France has a commanding 50-second lead going into the final sprint to the finish, and he is the fastest time trial racer in the world.

His nearest competitor won’t even look at Fignon’s split times. He tells his own coaches he doesn’t want to know his own splits. He simply digs deep and delivers a dazzling performance – the fastest speed in the history of the Tour de France.

Fignon lost the Tour de France. A young American with 40 shotgun pellets in his body, ended up with the yellow jersey.

 

After the shooting accident, would anyone blame Greg LeMond if he gave up competitive racing? Who believed that LeMond could ever race again – let alone regain the title as the world’s greatest cyclist?

Has adversity knocked the wind out of you? Know what you need? You need the patient, healing care of the Surgeon. But, once you stagger to your feet, you need to know that God never intended obstacles to stop you; they’re there to strengthen your resolve. Trials are meant to fuel our fire; to ignite the passion to give our all for God.

Yes, it hurts to get bucked off your horse. But shake it off. Dust off your jeans and, as Chris LeDeux sings, “get back on that pony and ride.”

 (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Nothing Glamorous About Roots

Story of the Day for Monday January 9, 2012

Nothing Glamorous About Roots

                  He will be like a tree planted by the water – that sends out its roots. . . It will not be anxious in a year of drought and will never fail to bear fruit.  

                                                                           Jeremiah 17:8

Let’s imagine you buy seeds for a Chinese Bamboo Tree. You plant them in an indoor greenhouse and hope for the best.

But, after a year of watering the soil, nothing has germinated.

Oh well, you just keep on watering the soil for another year. Still nothing. No sprout; no nothing.  You notice that the neighbors are beginning to look at you funny.

After the third year of constant care and watering, your best friend sits you down over coffee and gently points out that there is a difference between persistence, which a saintly virtue, and beating your head against a wall, which is the mark of an idiot.

You enter your fourth year of watering, and still nothing has happened. Family members have summoned the nice people in the white lab coats to take you for a little ride, but you hide in the broom closet until they quit looking for you and leave.

And you just keep on watering your seeds.

If you keep watering the seeds of a Chinese Bamboo Tree for four years, you won’t see anything happen. But, in the fifth year, a sprout will shoot up from the soil. And then – are you ready for this? – the tree will grow eighty feet high in the next six weeks!

 

But notice: the Chinese Bamboo Tree cannot grow eighty feet in six weeks. It can only grow eighty feet in five years.

The Bamboo Tree needs to develop a good root system first. The first four years of growth are all underground, and we can’t see what’s going on down there.

 

Let’s face it: there is nothing glamorous about roots. And not only that, if conditions stay perfect, a tree doesn’t really need deep roots.

But conditions never stay perfect. When the storms come, they will topple you over unless you’ve got deep roots. When the drought comes, your leaves will wither unless you’ve sunk deep roots.

 

Learning to find our strength in the Lord is like sending roots deep underground. The daily discipline of prayer and meditation and study is not something others see. No one will marvel at your prayer time nor applaud when you read your Bible.

But when the tough times come, you’ll find that the unseen taproot is finding all the water you need.

 

The pastor of a congregation got sick, and so, with little time to prepare, they asked an old pastor to give the sermon that morning.  The sermon was solid, clear, and nourishing. Afterward, a member thanked him for the fine sermon, and then asked, “How long did you take to prepare your sermon?”

The old pastor answered, “Seventy years.”

                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Wear Sweat On Your Brow

Story of the Day for Thursday December 29, 2011

Wear Sweat On Your Brow

                     Do good and don’t get discouraged, for at the proper time we’ll have a harvest – if we don’t give up. 

                                                                     Galatians 6:9

 Michael J. Pellowski, in his book, Not-So-Great Moments in Sports, tells the story about golf pro, Ray Floyd, who was trying to qualify for the Tournament Players Championship in March,1982. After shooting a couple mediocre rounds, he admitted defeat, packed his bags and left Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida for his home in Miami.

As he was weeding his garden the next morning, his wife rushed out at 11:30 to tell him his score was good enough to qualify for the tournament.  His scheduled tee time was 12:36!  Floyd grabbed his gear, reserved a Lear jet, and raced to the airport.  The jet landed at an airport 15 minutes from the course, where Floyd had reserved a helicopter to fly him to the tournament course.  He landed, jumped into a golf cart and made it to his tee thirty seconds before disqualification.  A couple quick practice swings and last year’s defending champion was in the tournament.

 

Our story, however, does not end there. Later, that same year, Floyd played in the LaJet Golf Classic in Abilene, Texas.  His second round was dismal, so he knew he missed the cut and would be ineligible to play the final two rounds.  So he flew home to Miami.

Yes!  Ray Floyd did it again.  High winds that day hurt the other golfers as well, and Floyd qualified for the tournament.  This time, he made no attempt to fly back to Texas in time for his scheduled tee off.

The New York Times reported his response, “Well, I did it again, didn’t I?”  If Floyd had not given up, he would almost certainly have won the money winning title for the year.  Floyd ruefully observed, “I guess I’ll never learn.”

 

Why do we give up?  We throw in the towel – not because we don’t believe in what we’re doing, but because we don’t believe it will succeed.  We don’t believe it will work.  We don’t believe it will make a difference.

But the Bible encourages us to never give up. Wait, and the harvest will come.

 

During the Vietnam War, the billionaire Ross Perot decided to buy a Christmas present for every American prisoner of war.  Perot took thousands of packages, chartered a fleet of Boeing 707s, and flew them to Hanoi.  The Hanoi government, however, said they would not provide charity to prisoners while American bombers were destroying villages.  Perot offered to send construction companies to rebuild the villages.  Still they refused.  As Christmas drew closer, Perot took off with his chartered fleet, and flew to Moscow.  His aides mailed the packages, one at a time.  Stamped by the Moscow post office, every package got delivered.

Life doesn’t always plop blessings onto our laps. Sometimes God invites us to know the joy of moving mountains by refusing to give up.

Those who live by faith wear sweat on their brow.

                                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Hang in There, Be Brave, and Keep Moving

Story of the Day for Wednesday December 21, 2011

Hang in There, Be Brave, and Keep Moving

                                                           . . . Let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us.

                                                                                                       Hebrews 12:1

The marathon is the most grueling race in the Olympics.  But there is a race in Australia called the toughest race in the world.  The Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon is a race of 544 miles. If it helps, just think of it as more than twenty back-to-back marathons.

 

In 1983, the world’s toughest athletes gathered for the race.  Promoter John Toleman put up $10,000 for the winner. Toleman’s friend, George Perdon was the world’s best long-distance runner, and Toleman wanted to recognize his amazing ability.

The start of the race that year will be remembered for the amusement it provided. Of all things, a 61-year-old farmer, Cliff Young, registered for the race and put on bib number 64.  Cliff looked especially comical wearing his farm overalls, with big galoshes over his work boots (he thought it might start raining).

The starting gun went off, and 150 runners exploded from the starting line. Without minutes, Cliff was left behind. To say he “runs” may be a stretch – it’s more of a loping shuffle.

 

Among the world’s best runners, a marathon is over in a couple hours.  But these world-class ultra-marathon runners race an unbelievable 18 hours a day. And, they continue this punishing pace for a week.

Runners of this caliber are sponsored by the top athletic companies.  They have coaches, trainers, and a support crew to provide food and medical care along the course.

And then we have old Cliff Young, who had no coach and whose “support crew” was his 81-year-old mother.

 

Okay, so Cliff Young is a shuffling old guy among the world’s best runners.  Still, don’t you admire the guy fore even entering a race like this?

Actually, you can admire him for more than starting the race.  After 18 hours, when the other racers got a mere six hours of sleep before hitting the course again, Cliff just kept on running.  He got two hours of sleep.  Later, he would run around the clock.

By running through the night, Cliff not only caught up to the frontrunners, he won the race! He finished in 5 days, 15 hours, and 4 minutes . . . and trimmed almost two days off the previous record.

Only five other runners finished the race.  Young took the $10,000 prize money (intended for George Perdon, who finished second) and gave each of the other finishers $2000 – keeping none for himself.

 

Your life is like a long-distance race.  The Lord has a course marked out for you.  But, he’s not looking for speed.  Instead, he encourages you to run with perseverance.  Just hang in there, be brave, and keep moving.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

With All Their Heart

Story of the Day for Monday August 1, 2011

With All Their Heart

                     We rebuilt the wall . . . because the people worked with all their heart. 

                                                                  Nehemiah 4:6

Grete Waitz, a 25 year-old Norwegian, tried to enter the New York City Marathon in 1978, but was turned down. They wanted to see her times in previous races, but she had never run a marathon. She had, in fact, never run a race further than twelve miles.

Later, the race director, Fred Lebow, called her back. He knew of her fast times in six and ten miles events, and told her she could enter the race because he wanted a “rabbit” to set a fast pace for the elite women.

Grete entered the marathon, and, by mile nineteen, knew her body had ventured into unknown territory. Her quads began to cramp and she knew that marathon races were not for her.

When she crossed the finish line, exhausted and in great pain, she was confused by the crowds swarming her and the microphones stuck in her face.  She was not only the first woman to cross the finish, but had smashed the world record by two minutes.

 

Grete was a teacher, but would get up at five in the morning to train before work. She delighted to get up before dawn in winter and run into the bitter cold Norwegian darkness. She felt that anyone could work out when it was a nice day. Gail Kislevitz, in her book, First Marathons, quoted Waitz’s opinion of training when conditions are favorable, “That’s fun,” she said, “but there’s no sense of sacrifice, no great accomplishment.” Competing, for Grete, was about courage and sacrifice – doing it with all your heart.

In 1988, Grete Waitz had won her ninth New York City Marathon, and was known worldwide as the greatest female marathoner of all time.

 

But, in 1993, Grete met Zoe Klopowitz, a heavy woman in her mid-forties who suffered from multiple sclerosis. Despite weak muscles and poor balance, Waitz was astounded to learn that Zoe planned to compete in the New York City marathon.

“Who is waiting for you at the finish line?” Zoe explained she had to rely on two canes, and moved so slowly she didn’t plan to finish until the next day. No one would be there to welcome her at the finish.

At dawn, about 20 hours after the marathon had started, Grete stood waiting for Zoe at the finish line. Exhausted and sleep deprived, Zoe fell into Grete’s arms. Two runners: the world’s fastest and slowest marathoners shared a common conviction. Both believed that what mattered most was not ability, but heart.

 

Nehemiah rallied the people to rebuild the fallen walls of Jerusalem. They worked against constant obstacles, taunts and threats. But the wall was completed because the people were committed to a noble task to the honor of God.

And the Bible says they gave themselves to the task “with all their heart.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)