Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsSaturday 12 Feb 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 5 minutes
I was talking in Part 1 about perseverance—people who persevere. Here are things to note about persevering people:
Failure is not an obstacle
People who persevere experience failure just like everyone else. Persevering people try, and fail, and sometimes it’s their own fault, sometimes it isn’t. But they get over it. They are not some super-breed of human who goes from success to success. The thing is, we all make mistakes, we all have down times, we all fail sometimes. Nobody is fail-proof. And failure may not necessarily say anything about you personally. It might say something about others.
Did you know that Charlie Chaplin once entered a ‘Charlie Chaplin look-alike’ competition? He came third. Your failure may have less to do with you than with the way others perceive you. But even if your failure was your fault, that’s not the end of the world. Some of the greatest people in the Bible had monumental failures—here are some of them:
- Moses once committed murder.
- King David committed adultery and then tried to cover it up by committing murder.
- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob established a family tradition of lying and deception.
- In Jesus’ hour of need, Peter denied even knowing him.
Yet, all of these men went on to be greatly used by God—despite their failure.
The past is history
People who persevere choose not to live in the past. There’s a wonderful function on a computer: ‘Control Z’ (CTRL Z). For those who aren’t computer literate, it’s an ‘undo’ function. So you’re typing away, and you look at the screen, and you realise that your hands have been on the wrong row of keys. So you’re faced with all this gobbledygook. No problem—CTRL Z saves the day. And it’s just like you never made a mistake in the first place. But life doesn’t come with a ‘CTRL Z’ function. You’re in a conversation, and some angry words escape. And you think: Quick! CTRL Z! I want to delete. But you can’t; what’s said is said, and what’s done is done. But that doesn’t mean we have to be pulled down by our past mistakes for the rest of our lives. Unless we choose to live in the past.
Here are four things we can experience that tell us we might be living in the past:
And you know what? God has an answer for every one of those. But we have to let him take control, and we have to choose not to live in the past.
Sparky was someone who chose not to live in the past. He was nicknamed ‘Sparky’ at school, after a comic-strip horse, and as much as he hated it, he just couldn’t shake it. He wasn’t the brightest kid in the school, and failed every subject in Grade 8. He still holds the record as the worst physics student in the school’s history, and also flunked Latin, Algebra, and English. He wasn’t good at sport either. Kids rarely talked to him outside of school; he never had a girlfriend.
But there was one thing he loved doing: drawing cartoons. He dreamed of drawing for Walt Disney, so when he finished high school, he sent some of his cartoons off. He waited and waited, and finally got a reply telling him there was nothing available for him. Then he got an idea: He was such a loser, and he wanted to tell his own story in cartoon form. Today, that man is known the world over. His name is Charles Monroe ‘Sparky’ Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Through all his failure, he chose not to live in the past.
Paul kept on running to win the prize God prepared for him—being called to heaven.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12-14: I have not reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run towards the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. Of course, Paul was able to forget the things which were in the past, because he had already brought those things to the Lord.
Persevering people make the decision to keep moving on. Paul said, …reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
We have to keep moving forward, and the only way we can do that is to decide who is going to be in charge. Will it be us, or will it be Jesus? If it’s going to be us, we’ll keep going backwards. If we want to try both us and Jesus—that’s two drivers pulling in different directions—we’ll stand still on the spot. The only way to move forward is to put the Lord in charge, and to keep him there.
The focus is on today
Persevering people take one day at a time. Here’s a really profound truth; it may sound really simple, maybe even a little stupid. You can’t live tomorrow today. We’re stuck in this 24-hour slot, subject to time. And there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it, but that’s not for want of trying, is it? We worry, we fret, we get fearful about what might happen tomorrow. And all the while, today—the day we’re in—may be a wonderful day, but we can’t enjoy it, because we’re trying to live tomorrow.
A little bit like Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden. They’ve got everything they want there. Everything is perfect. And there’s only one thing God has told them they can’t do: eat the fruit of the tree that’s in the middle of the garden. And there’s Adam and Eve, everything is wonderful. But instead of enjoying what they’ve got, they’re just thinking, I want what’s over there.
Let’s not fall into the same trap—worrying about tomorrow so much that we can’t enjoy today.