Summary: Faith in the resurrection reality of Jesus Christ produces perseverance for the journey and hope for the future.
Holy Spirit Series 2000
Life in the Spirit: Faith For The Distance
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Life is a marathon, not a sprint, so the saying goes. The same is true of the Christian faith. Finishing well, not just starting with a flurry, should be every believer’s goal.
Writer Eugene Peterson, in his excellent book on the Psalms, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, explains the problem we face with this principle,
“Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments. It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest.”
It is just this quality of finishing well, persevering until the very end, that marks great lives and strong faiths.
It was perseverance as much as genius that made some of the great heroes of all time what they were. Thomas Edison didn’t just sit down one day and decide to invent the incandescent light bulb. He sent messengers around the world searching for just the right fiber for the filament. But even that wasn’t enough. Edison tried over 18,000 combinations and experiments, each one failing, before he finally succeeded. A starter and not a finisher? What if he had given up after just 17,000 attempts?
Reportedly Jonas Salk, one of the great medical heroes of the twentieth century, worked sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, for three years before he finally developed the polio vaccine. What if Salk had been a sprinter but not a marathon man?
On a less serious note, but equally impressive, is the record of one of baseballs greatest legends. Do you know who holds the major league record for the most career strikeouts at 1300? Probably not. But if I told you the same player also held the record for the most homeruns for most of baseball history, you would guess his name immediately. Indeed, Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns but struck out nearly twice as often. If quitting at the first sign of failure or difficulty had been in his nature, Ruth’s name would have never made the record books in either category.
One of my favorite all time stories deals with perseverance, sort of. Perhaps you read it in Reader’s Digest several years ago. There was an accident in a West Texas oil field. An explosion set an oilrig on fire. The flames were burning in controllably. Smoke clouded the horizon for miles.
All efforts to extinguish the inferno proved futile. The local riggers did their best. Texaco sent in a crew. All to no avail. A call went out to Red Adair and his oil fire experts in Houston. Within twenty-four hours a crew of dozens and trailers loaded with millions of dollars worth of the world’s best fire fighting equipment arrived.
After several tries, the Houston crew, exhausted and soot covered, reported to the site office set up about a half mile from the blaze. “It’s no use,” they told the company reps. “That fire is so hot no one can get within a hundred yards of it and live. We’ll just have to let it burn down some and then try again.”