Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

September 30, 2018


What counts is the courage to continue


            Most people thought Tiger Woods was finished as a professional golfer. They had reason to believe so. When he resumed playing after eight surgeries on his back and his knees, he usually missed the cut after the first two rounds. But Tiger refused to quit. His persistence paid off last Sunday when he won his 80th career PGA Tour victory, his first since 2013.

            Tiger may have been inspired by the courageous example of Winston Churchill. Defeated at the polls more than once, Churchill also refused to quit. His tenacity paid off too, enabling him to inspire the English people to stop Hitler from destroying Great Britain. It was Churchill who said, “If you are going through hell, keep going!” The people of London were indeed going through hell while thousands of bombs were falling on their beloved city, but the people kept going! They refused to surrender.

            Churchill also said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” He was right. Few things inspire us more than stories of people who found the courage to continue in the face of great adversity.

            Take, for example, the story of Bob Weiland who in the fall of 1986 participated in the New York Marathon. Fifty thousand runners began the race. Only 19,413 finished. Bob was the last one to cross the finish line. It took him four days, two hours and 17 minutes to finish. Why so long? Bob had no legs! He completed the marathon on his hands, swinging his torso one mile per hour. And why did he do it? He explained, “I am a born again Christian and I wanted to show people that faith in the Lord Jesus will always overcome the impossible!”

            Derek Redmond inspired us a few years ago when he found the courage to continue. Derek was a British runner and one of the favorites to win a gold medal in the summer Olympics of 1992. In the quarter finals of the 400 meters sprint, Derek was running well, in the lead halfway through the race. Suddenly he fell on the track with a pulled hamstring. It was over for Derek; he would not win the race.

            When medical attendants rushed to his aid, Derek waved them away.  The crowd was stunned to see him get on his feet and start hobbling down the track. Officials were shocked, not sure what to do. Then out of nowhere an older man runs onto the track, brushing away officials who tried to stop him. The older man ran to Derek and threw his arms around him.

            The man was Jim Redmond, Derek’s father. “You don’t have to do this son,” Jim said.

“Yes I do!” Derek replied. “Then we’ll finish this race together son,” Jim said.

People in the stands were crying. People watching on television were crying. Derek and Jim were crying, tears running down the cheeks of both men. But despite the agonizing pain, Derek found the courage to continue down the track, arm in arm with his father helping him take one step after another. At last they crossed the finish line while hundreds in the stands stood on their feet applauding and shouting. It would later be called the defining moment of the Barcelona Olympics.

Those are inspiring stories, but frankly there are days, and times, when I am tempted to give up. I don’t feel like looking for the courage to continue. I want to have a pity party and wallow in my misery. Then I recall the words of Carl Sandburg: “There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”

That’s when I turn to the Lord and ask for help. And I hear him saying, “Unless you want to wallow in the mud, take my hand and I will help you fly like an eagle.” That is not a hollow promise either. He will do it! He has done it for me many times.

Growing up on a farm, I often saw hogs wallowing the mud. It was not a pretty sight. Men and women were not made to wallow in the mud of failure and defeat. And if we refuse to quit, and ask for help, the good Lord will give us the courage to continue. At the end of the day, that’s what counts. + + +