Saturday, May 27, 2017

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!” ― John Wesley

                                     It has been said that stupidity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  But you don't have to fail over and over again.  When you fail, and you will, you just figure out what went wrong, try to change that, and try again.  And you keep doing that over and over again.  We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise won because it was persistent and stuck to what it knew best.  The picture at the right illustrates Wesley’s quote above.  While bricks are man-made and very hard, they proved to be no barrier to the flower that was seeking the sunlight.  The seed that was in darkness never stopped pushing to get to the light, and you can see the result.  I’m sure you’ve seen countless pictures of roses growing up through pavement and trees sticking out of solid rock walls.  If you are doing what God wants you to be doing, there is nothing that can stand in your way.  You can be that flower surrounded by a sea of concrete.  An Orthodox Catholic nun in Greece told me that “if it is of God, nothing can stand in its way, but if it is not of God, nothing can make it happen.”  We are living proof of her words, and so are thousands of others, maybe even you, who have persevered doing what you know God wants of you.  
                       Maybe you have failed a time or two, stumbled and skinned your knees, but you always got back up and carried on, right?  There is nothing, and I mean nothing, so powerful that it can stop committed Christians from bringing light into a very dark world.  What we do here in Africa may seem exotic and courageous, but no more so that standing up for your Christian beliefs in the midst of your world that makes fun of them and derides you for them, yet, they are what sets you apart.  Maybe some of you will remember Tom Landry, the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for their first twenty-nine years.  The world of professional football, especially for those teams that won often and went to Super Bowls was a world of glitter, drugs, women, and temptations to which most men succumbed.  Not Tom Landry.  Tom Landry was a Christian, a Methodist in fact, and set an example in his private and business life that few other coaches would or could ever emulate.  He had an “Aldersgate” moment in 1958 that changed him forever as he understood the sacrifice of Christ Jesus and the importance of living a life that becomes the gospel.  No one can say if it was his lifestyle and its stark contrast to that of the new owner of the Cowboys that led to his dismissal or not, but I, at least, am sure it played a major part.  He succeeded in a world that tried its best to lure him away from his beliefs, but he stood fast.  He is still one of my heroes and always will be.  You all know someone like him, someone who puts Christ above self, and the call to service, however hard, first and foremost.  You don’t have to be highly educated or physically gifted to succeed for Christ, but you do have to be committed to following His lead and thus leading others by your example, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.  Look at the picture at the right again: man-made obstacle—0, God given spirit for life—1.  God will always win.  If a weed (okay a pretty weed, but a weed nonetheless) can do it, you can do it, right?

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