Running at sun up

Published 6:31 pm Friday, May 20, 2016

I read of an African parable that conveys this message: Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: When the sun comes up, you had better be running.

The demands of life are huge, so if we expect to achieve what God has called us to we have to stay focused and active. Yet even when we try our best to keep running for Him, there are times when we experience setbacks that we often perceive as failures.

It is then that we must not give in to the temptation to become discouraged and abandon our quest to serve God.

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I entered into Bible college as a nontraditional student: Gale and I had been married for eleven years and we had two children. Those who have endured such a journey understand some of the difficulties and challenges that come along with it.

I will not deny that I wanted to quit more than once, but with my wife’s encouragement to stay the course, I made it through those four brutal years.

When I was about half-way through, I was required to pass a test given by the state of Florida in order to continue to receive much needed state financial aid.

After taking the long and laborious test, I found that I passed every area except one; I was one point short of passing math. I do not accept failure well, so I was understandably upset with my performance. That left me with a choice: I could give up because of that one bump in the road to graduation, or I could retake the failed portion of the test and hopefully excel in the second attempt.

Those times in life that we perceive as failures can, if we will allow them, become rich learning events that will ultimately make us stronger and better. John C. Maxwell, in his book “Failing Forward”, writes, “The terrible truth is that all roads to achievement lead through the land of failure.” Maxwell then offers this bit of guidance, which I believe applies to both our spiritual growth and our daily accomplishments: “Get a new definition of failure. Regard it as the price you pay for progress. If you can do that, you will put yourself in a much better position to fail forward.”

James 1:12 assures us that “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (New International Version). The trials of life that appear as useless failures, in reality often prove to become indispensable preparation time for the future. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “The things which hurt, instruct.”

What happened with the test that I failed? I prepared myself, retook it and received a nearly perfect score the second time around. I can assure you from more than one personal experience that refusing to accept failure as final pays huge dividends.

In whatever area you might define as a failure in your life, I urge you to not give up. Instead, surrender it to God and be found running toward His goals for your life everyday when the sun comes up!