In Acts, chapter 14, we read where Paul was being stoned at Lystra. He was doing what God called him to do…preaching the gospel and seeing God do the miraculous. After a man who was crippled was healed, Jews from Antioch and Iconium stirred up the crowd and the Bible says they stoned Paul. Can you imagine having rocks thrown at you? (the physical kind) The Bible says in verse 20 that Paul got back up and went back into the city. Listen – be prepared – people are going to oppose you and will throw rocks at you. They may not be actual rocks but you will on occasion be knocked to your feet and even flat on your back. Do what Paul did; get back up! Go and continue what you have been called to do. Persevere no matter what the obstacles. I know it is easy preaching and hard living but let me encourage you to get back up!
Paul didn’t quit. People and circumstances will do everything to bring you down. You are going to want to throw in the towel. I speak from personal experiences, I have wanted to quit several times in my life. I love this quote by Booker T. Washington, ”I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed.”
I love the story of Florence Chadwick. She was 34 years old in 1952. It was July 4th. The California Coast was covered in fog. Twenty-one miles to the west of Catalina Island, Florence waded into the water and began swimming toward California, determined to be the first woman to do so. She had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions.
The water was numbing cold that July morning and the fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats in her own party.
Millions were watching on national television. Several times sharks, which had gotten too close, had to be driven away with rifles to protect the lone figure in the water.
As the hours ticked off she swam on.
Fatigue had never been her big problem in these swims –
it was the bone chilling cold of the water.
More than fifteen hours later, numbed with the cold,
she asked to be taken out.
She couldn’t go on.
Her mother and her trainer alongside in a boat told
her they were near land. They urged her not to quit.
But when she looked toward the California Coast,
all see could see was the dense fog.
A few minutes later, at fifteen hours and fifty five minutes, she was taken out of the water.
It was not until hours later, when her body began to thaw, that she felt the shock of failure. To a reporter she blurted out, “Look I’m not excusing myself. But if I could have seen land, I might have made it.”
She had been pulled out only a half mile from the California Coast! Later she was to reflect that she had been licked not by fatigue or even the cold – The fog alone had defeated her because it obscured her goal. It had blinded her reason, her eyes, her heart.
It was the only time Florence Chadwick ever quit.
Two months later she swam that same channel.
And again fog obscured her view. But this time she swam with her faith intact. Somewhere behind that fog was land.
Not only was she the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel, but she beat the men’s record by some two hours!
Persevere, don’t give up! No matter what blocks your view, no matter how many people doubt you, or who says you cannot make it. Persevere no matter what the obstacles!