Nothing in the world
Can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not;
Nothing is more common
Than unsuccessful men
Genius will not:
Is almost a proverb.
Education will not;
The world is full of
Persistence and determination
Alone are important
Anonymous. Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p.93.
It was 1804. Napoleon Bonaparte stared with frustration across the English Channel toward his nemesis. Behind him was the invincible Grande Armee, nearly 200,000 crack veterans, all straining at the leash to crush the hated English. Everything was ready for the invasion: the transport barges, the escort fleet, ammunition, cavalry, artillery, ambulance wagons, even field bakeries. Every last detail had been meticulously planned. It was merely a matter or crossing the 28 miles of water in a single night's journey. Yet for month after month Napoleon paced the beach at Boulogne, hesitating to act. Finally, after over a year of waiting, he suddenly turned his huge army around and marched it into the heart of Europe. The plan to invade England was laid aside forever. The thing that had stopped the great conqueror at the height of his career was the Royal Navy, Britain's "wall of oak." Out of sight, just over the horizon, it was nevertheless always foremost in Napoleon's doubts. And though the future Emperor's own fleet outnumbered the British, he dared not test it. That is the power of deterrence, that the true effectiveness of a strategic system is in the mind of the enemy.
The year was 1920. The scene was the examining board for selecting missionaries. Standing before the board was a young man named Oswald Smith. One dream dominated his heart. He wanted to be a missionary. Over and over again, he prayed, "Lord, I want to go as a missionary for you. Open a door of service for me." Now, at last, his prayer would be answered. When the examination was over, the board turned Oswald Smith down. He did not meet their qualifications. He failed the test. Oswald Smith had set his direction, but now life gave him a detour. What would he do? As Oswald Smith prayed, God planted another idea in his heart. If he could not go as a missionary, he would build a church which could send out missionaries. And that is what he did. Oswald Smith pastored The People's Church in Toronto, Canada, which sent out more missionaries than any other church at that time. Oswald Smith brought God into the situation, and God transformed his detour into a main thoroughfare of service.
Brian L. Harbour, Rising Above the Crowd.
STATISTICS AND STUFF
Detours, when we get off the main road, can be frustrating and time consuming. Yet in the spiritual life, God seems to allow us to be detoured. One of the longest detours of all time happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness. What should have taken them eleven days to enter the Promised Land turned into a forty-year detour in the desert. That detour was due to their deplorable lack of faith in God's conquering power. On the other hand, there were those who may have thought they were being detoured by God, but who later found they were on God's perfect road of blessing all along. Consider: 1) Moses was detoured into submission. Those forty years in the wilderness tending sheep were not a waste, but actually a training ground for tending Israel later on. The desert experience took all the trust in the arm of flesh out of Moses (Exodus 3,4). 2) Paul was detoured into learning. "I went into Arabia...then after three years I went up to Jerusalem" (Galatians 1:17,18). Those years were good for Paul, so that he might learn of Christ and be trained for service. 3) Philip was detoured from many, to one. He went from winning multitudes, to winning one man, the Etheopian eunuch; from a great revival to a singular witnessing experience. This story shows the Lord's estimation of the value of one soul. 4) Enoch and Elijah were detoured into heaven (Genesis 5:24, II Kings 2:11). Is today the day we will experience the same?
That there is a devil is a thing doubted by none but such as are under the influence of the Devil.
On a recent trip to Haiti, I heard a Haitian pastor illustrate to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. His parable: A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn't afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.
After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
The Haitian pastor's conclusion: "If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ's habitation."
Dale A. Hays, Leadership, Vol X, #3 (Summer, 1989), p. 35.
Christians must not fear or ignore the devil. Both positions are dangerous. The hog nosed snake is an evil looking reptile which responds to the threat of danger with two ruses. First, it impersonates a pit viper, coiling and striking and hissing viciously. If this fails to intimidate the attacker the snake turns belly up, opens its mouth and lolls its tongue out, playing dead. If it is picked up and placed right side up it simply turns over and resumes the death ruse again. It seems to realize that if it cannot bluff, it has to mimic death.
Richard Lovelace, Demon Possession, ed. J. Montgomery.
Writing in Moody Monthly, Carl Armerding recounted his experience of watching a wildcat in a zoo. "As I stood there," he said, "an attendant entered the cage through a door on the opposite side. He had nothing in his hands but a broom. Carefully closing the door, he proceeded to sweep the floor of the cage." He observed that the worker had no weapon to ward off an attack by the beast. In fact, when he got to the corner of the cage where the wildcat was lying, he poked the animal with the broom. The wildcat hissed at him and then lay down in another corner of the enclosure. Armerding remarked to the attendant, "You certainly are a brave man." "No, I ain't brave," he replied as he continued to sweep. "Well, then that cat must be tame." "No," came the reply, "he ain't tame." "If you aren't brave and the wildcat isn't tame, then I can't understand why he doesn't attack you." Armerding said the man chuckled, then replied with an air of confidence, "Mister, he's old--and he ain't got no teeth."
Carl Armerding, Moody Monthly.
Theologians tell a story to illustrate how Christ's triumph presently benefits our lives: Imagine a city under siege. The enemy that surrounds they city will not let anyone or anything leave. Supplies are running low, and the citizens are fearful. But in the dark of the night, a spy sneaks through the enemy lines. He has rushed to the city to tell the people that in another place the main enemy force has been defeated; the leaders have already surrendered. The people do not need to be afraid. It is only a matter of time until the besieging troops receive the news and lay down their weapons. Similarly, we may seem now to be surrounded by the forces of evil -- disease, injustice, oppression, death. But the enemy has actually been defeated at Calvary. Things are not the way they seem to be. It is only a matter of time until it becomes clear to all that the battle is really over.