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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN


Will You Die Climbing?

The Bible reminds us that it's always too soon to quit. From Noah to Abraham to Joseph to Moses to Joshua to David to Jesus, the Bible is a story about people who won the fight simply because they refused to pitch in the towel. The first century Latin satirical poet Persius said, "He conquers who endures." Abraham Lincoln wouldn't give up or give in, even though life hammered on him and sought to set him back repeatedly. When he was seven, his family was forced out of their home and he had to work to help support them. At age nine, his mother died. At 22, he lost his job as a store clerk. He wanted to attend law school, but couldn't get in. At 23, he went into debt to become a partner in a small store. At 26, his business partner died, leaving him a huge debt that took years to repay. Also at 26, his sweetheart died and his heart was crushed causing a nervous breakdown that affected him for months. At 37, after two failed bids, he was elected to Congress, but two years later lost his seat. At 45, he ran for the Senate but lost. At 47, he failed as the vice-presidential candidate. At 49, he ran for the Senate again, and again he lost. At 51, he was elected President of the United States. Many consider Lincoln the greatest leader our country ever had. Some people have all the luck, don't they? Lincoln knew suffering and repeated loss and defeat. But one thing he didn't know was how to quit. As he once said of himself, "I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards." His life reminds me of a quote attributed to Robert Strauss — "It's a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired." Abraham Lincoln kept wrestling his gorillas till an assassin's bullet plowed through his brain and ended his earthly life, leaving us to wonder how else he would have made history had he lived through his second presidential term. I am reminded of a story I heard decades ago about a mountain climber who fell to his death as he struggled toward the summit. Months after his fall friends and fellow climbers returned and ascended the mountain until they reached the place where their friend had plunged to his death.  There they left a sign with this simple message: "He died climbing."

What gorillas are you currently wrestling? What mountains are you climbing? The apostle Paul was wrestling with prison and persecution when he wrote these famous and forceful words,  "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and 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" (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul's life in Christ was always an uphill climb. But like the Savior he so passionately served, he didn't know the meaning of the word quit. He died climbing. As Christians we all have an upward call and a glorious and supreme goal — to get to Heaven and be with Christ and the Father. But the climb is sometimes steep and hard? Have you thought about turning back? Heaven's counsel is clear — don't quit. Press on. You won't fail so long as you die climbing.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ