I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises.
Hearrived with his usual props. A cigar, a cane, and a top hat accompanied Churchill wherever he went. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confident before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill's voice as he shouted, "Never give up!"
Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: "Never give up!" His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform. His commencement address was finished. Beautiful One, can God take someone who doesn't know everything and do more with them than expected? Better yet, can God take you and do the impossible?
I don't know about you but I love underdogs. Maybe that's because I am one myself. There is nothing moreinspiring or that revives my sense of hope more than when I hear of someone who has struggled in the face of adversity, made it through to the other side while silencing the voices of defeat with a resounding victory!
Beautiful One, where are we going? I am not talking about heaven, I am speaking about where are we? Where are you and I going as we journey through each day? Are we taking steps that will help us reach our God-given purpose?
One thing we must be careful to do is become battle proof. Nothing comes easy, especially anything good. There is a lot of hard work, fortitude, tenacity, maturity, and careful focus on the prize that is before us, so when obstacles do come our way (and they will), we must not be thrown off course or shoved aside.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to take my boys and their friends to the NBA All Star Events in our city. Because the boys are avid basketball fans and players, I was hoping they would get to see a player up close. But God had more in store for them this weekend than any of us could have imagined!
We didn't quite know where to go and there was so much to see: the block party, hoop shooting, and numerous places to eat. Undulating lines of people were everywhere and excitement filled the air. We just happened to be outside of Amarie Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns restaurant. Talk about being at the right place at the right time; this was central hub for a television broadcast featuring several NBA players who were going to be interviewed. As the players came out one-by-one people were pressing against each other hoping to catch a glimpse or a picture of the players. I looked at my youngest son. He was standing on the back of a truck and, as hard as he was struggling to see, he couldn't.
Something in me rose up. I grabbed his little arm and I told him, "Come on Cristian, we're going to have to get a bit aggressive and push our way through this crowd." And that's what we did! We were not rude or out of order, but the thought hit me, "We are here, we came here to see something great and if we don't get in there, we're going to be pushed aside and miss out."
I can tell you it was just the encouragement my son needed, he took those words and ran with them. Not only did he push his way to the front, but he got real low to the ground and accessed the door that the players were using when they finished their interviews. My son would run around to the side, into the restaurant, and go meet the the basketball stars! At one point he was in the restaurant longer than the previous times so I went in to see what he was doing. It just so happened that all of my boys followed the players to the VIP lounge way in the back and were told they could stay.
They weren't supposed to be there, but because they didn't give up and they pursued with a pure heart and a childlike faith and the reward was even bigger than we could have imagined. I laugh at the thought of my sons getting VIP treatment, all the food they could eat, tournaments, and speaking to players from the NBA. I am so glad I grabbed his little arm and he pushed his way through.
As I stayed outside for the next few hours listening to the players who were still being interviewed, Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics came out. I listened intently to this young man, and he said one sentence that is so profound and true for all of us. When asked what he does to prepare for a big game, he replied "I prepare my mind for battle, for the battle is won in my mind first, before I ever win on the court."
I think someone else said those words; "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he"
What about Winston Churchill? Somewhere he had to see in his mind that he could conquer English or he wouldn't have done it three times. He had to believe that he would get his diploma before he would actually receive one. Maybe that is what helped him overcome the discouragement of failing that class. It's the same with Paul Pierce. What if he had the mindset that other players were better than he was, they were faster, could play better, and he should just be content to be on a team? No way! Paul believed that he could do the impossible. He worked hard and conditioned his mind to not accept defeat and last year this man received the MVP award as his team took home the Championship.
Failure is a given, but defeat is optional. We are only defeated when we fail and we do not get back up to try again.
Beautiful One, we are each on a road to somewhere. Greatness lies in each of us because we come from the Great One. We have something the world does not have, we have a powerful, mighty God who has a thousand ways to help us, deliver us, love us and speak to us.
Whatever you are facing, whether it be discouragement, failure, fear, doubt, worry, whatever it is, remember this: God uses the adversity in our lives to strengthen us, grow us, and teach us his faithfulness. Obstacles are nothing more than opportunities to push us through the crowd with authority in our voice, "Excuse me, excuse me, God is calling me from the background to the forefront and I will accomplish what I came here to do!"
Beautiful One, just believe because you are becoming battle proof!