Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
July 29, 2012
Every worthy endeavor requires persistence
We hear it said
that great deeds are the result of blood, sweat and tears. Well for my money
you can forget the tears. What every worthy endeavor requires is actually
blood, sweat and persistence. Few things worth
doing are ever accomplished without persistence. It is the great secret to
This virtue of the human spirit
calls to mind words like diligence, doggedness, unrelenting, determination, and
perseverance. These words remind us that unless we are willing to “keep on
keeping on,” often against overwhelming resistance, our efforts will not be
crowned with success.
The Bible offers
us many excellent examples, not the least of which is the unrelenting pursuit
of the will of God by Jesus. But for a moment consider the example of Nehemiah.
He took on a difficult assignment for God. It was a task he could not
accomplish alone. The rebuilding of the wall required the help of many people.
Some of the people he called on to help let him down. But Nehemiah refused to
give up. He stayed the course.
fall to pieces when disgruntled people walk away from the fellowship. Those
members who remain must decide whether to give up or carry on. Recovery usually
requires a few people with the spirit of Nehemiah who will, without rancor
toward the quitters, persist in finding other people to join them in getting
the job done. If you say of some person you admire, “He stayed the course,” you
have paid that person a beautiful compliment.
efforts were fiercely opposed. But he did not allow his detractors to defeat
him. He used the gifts God had given him – the gifts of persuasion, organization,
encouragement, and faith in God. He persuaded people to embrace his vision. He
organized the people according to their skills. He encouraged the people to
“keep their hands on the plow.” He inspired people to believe that God would
reward their diligent labor.
It is not
difficult to recognize work that needs to be done. We are all good at seeing a
problem and saying, “Somebody needs to do something about that.” But usually
nothing gets done until a Nehemiah comes along and says, “Let’s tackle this job
together.” The most “Somebody” ever does is complain. Walls are never rebuilt
until a Nehemiah shows up and challenges people to get organized and go to
work. God’s work usually requires a team effort.
overemphasize the fact that, inspired by Nehemiah, the people were willing to
work. They “had a mind to work.” I love that phrase, “a mind to work.” What a
blessing it is to see people step forward, get their hands dirty and get the
Churches are made strong not by talk
but by work. Talk is cheap. Most churches are filled with people who “yap”
constantly about what the pastor and the staff ought to do. But call a “work
day” and the talkers seldom show up. “We had to go out of town to see Aunt
Sally,” they whine.
Yet, thank God,
the work goes on. Even a few people can get a lot done if they have the right
perspective. The motive for which we work is crucial. We spoil it if we work
for the applause of others or out of a desire to have “control.” We work best
when we offer our labor as an expression of gratitude for what the good Lord
has done for us.
Attitude is so
important. When we choose to be persistent in doing work for God, we must take
care not to become mulish and inflexible. The Jews had to be flexible. Their
enemies made it necessary for some of the Jews to stand guard while others
worked. Henry Ward Beecher wisely observed, “The difference between
perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other
from a strong won’t.”
We have not only
the inspiring example of Nehemiah but also that of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.
Jesus refused to let his enemies deter him from his mission. Resolutely he “set
his face” toward
When our burdens
are heavy and we are tempted to quit, the words of Saint Paul can renew our
determination, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we
will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). How many times this
scripture has caused me to cry out, “Lord, help me not to grow weary in doing
what I believe is your will!” And He has always answered, “Alright I will; now
get up and get back to work!”
In his day
Winston Churchill’s persistence changed the course of history for
The virtue of
persistence calls to mind Churchill’s speech to students at Harrow, his old
school, in 1941, when he said, "This is the lesson: never give in,
never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or
petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield
to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
What a speech! What a difference the dogged spirit of Churchill made for his
When we become
weary in doing the work to which we have been called, crying will not help.
Forget the tears. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get back in the game with
blood, sweat and persistence. Stay the course. Persevere. Then, when you think
you have done all you can do, you will have the joy of realizing that unseen
hands have helped you finish the job. + + +