I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Many years ago, when our sons were quite young, our family spent part of the Christmas holiday in Florida with relatives. One evening, we drove around the neighborhood seeing the Christmas lights. We saw one house that was brilliantly decorated and featured a sign that said “Open House – Refreshments Served.” My mother-in-law suggested that we stop there, as the owner of the house was a friend of hers and was a retired NFL Houston Oilers football player. He and his wife warmly greeted us and gave us a tour of their beautifully decorated home. Besides the Christmas decorations, the home had a room which featured memorabilia from his playing days – helmets, jerseys, trophies, team photos, etc. He gave us an autographed photo of himself which included these words “Never Give Up, Never Give Up, Never Give Up.”
I asked him what those words meant to him, and he said that over the years, many family and friends told him that he was too short to play football, or didn’t have the talent to make it in the pros. People told him that his business ideas were too unrealistic. He said that on many occasions, he was tempted to take the easy way out, to train less hard, to play it safe rather than accept the challenges. But that his faith in God told him that God would be with him every step of the way, and that he should trust God in every phase of his life.
The Apostle Paul knew what it meant to accept challenges when the easy way out was an attractive alternative. And Jesus—especially during His temptations in the desert, and during the night before He was crucified—had the ability to choose between facing the cross or backing down. We all have times when we want to give up, to acknowledge that we are too weak or too unprepared to handle an illness, job situation, family issue, or other problem. Easter gives us a new opportunity to put the past behind us, and to face the future knowing that although we may not know what the future holds, we know that God is in our future. Never Give Up, Never Give Up, Never Give Up.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 1:2-4, 16-20, Psalm 50:7-15, 22-24, Matthew 23:1-12