Mr. Paul, His Call, and the Ball

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Once upon a time, the US space program faced a major challenge in their Atlas rocket program. It seems they had a corrosion problem caused by moisture that needed to be fixed. The challenge was to create a formula capable of displacing water and thus preventing corrosion. So, one Norm Larsen went to work, concocting formula after formula until finally – after 39 failed attempts – he hit on a successful mixture on trial number 40 and – da-da – Water Displacement formula #40 was born – better known today as WD-40. It’s now estimated that up to eighty percent of us have a can of the stuff in our homes.

Persistence and perseverance was definitely the name the game here. The Bible is chocked full of people who were also persistent and came through amazing conflicts with flying colors, but the number one person in my book who wins top honors is the Apostle Paul – hands down! What an amazing guy! Reading through 2 Corinthians 11 we discover that while spreading truth and preaching the gospel, Paul was beaten with rods, stoned, imprisoned, whipped, shipwrecked three times and once even spent an entire day adrift at sea. He faced danger in the cities and robbers on the road, not to mention working long hours, enduring sleepless nights and often going without food or water. The list perilously goes on and on.

Let me be brutally honest here and say if I had experienced any of those horrendous things I would have written a book, made the rounds on talk radio & TV, probably taken legal action against the Romans, and then gone into long-term counseling. But Paul was absolutely remarkable, staying his course to the end. As Stephen Covey puts it: “Beginners are many, finishers are few.” Paul was definitely one of the remarkable few! Back when I was in high school – way back when – I played tennis in our girls after school sports program. There was a gal named Marlene who was what you’d call a hot tennis player – she’d slam you with her 100 mile-an-hour serves as easy as running a hot knife through butter. It was brutal. She was at the top of the ladder and I worked diligently all year to beat her, with my dad even taking me out on weekends to practice my serves and backhands.

The day finally came when I won my sets. I had worked so hard – I was ecstatic! But, alas, the following week she clobbered me again… but the next week I made my big comeback. It went on like that the entire year and drove our poor coach crazy! When it finally came time for awards night I fully expected Marlene would take the trophy for Best in Tennis. But it tuned out our coach just couldn’t decide on the top heavy hitter, so for the first time, two top tennis awards were given out.

We had both worked hard and were both thrilled, needless to say! Like Newt Gingrich says: “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” So true! Mine was a grueling win but so worth it. Fortunately, I realized early on that all I had to do was hit that ball back just one time more than my opponent: perseverance! Life today can be pretty challenging – not much debate on that. But this is not the time for fear or apathy to set in. People are hungry for truth and the message of the Gospel.

Persevering in a time of upheaval – as the Apostle Paul did – is one of the bravest and most courageous things a person can do! Abandoning labor in the Lord’s vineyards at this juncture in our nations history is something we should all think twice about. We need to seize every opportunity to share our testimony, share our lives and share the good news of Jesus Christ with any and all who have an ear to hear! None of us has gone through anything like what Paul endured – and like Paul – we are called to be the godly counterbalance in this rapidly darkening world.

I will say again – we can do this – just do something! Sydney Smith says the same thing this way: “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little, do what you can!”

Bob and Susan Beckett pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street in Hemet, CA. For more information you can visit them at DPCityChurch.org

Susan Beckett • Contributor

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