Determination


"Every noble work is at first impossible" (Thomas Carlyle 1795–1881)

My ancestors, two generations back on my maternal side, hail from Scotland. Our family name was then Glendenning and there is still a small piece of southern Scotland that bears that clan name. Our family tree has been traced back to King Robert the Bruce and his claim to fame is immortalised in the story of the spider and the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” That was in 1306. In 1314 he led the army that defeated the English at Bannockburn. One of my ancestors, Matthew Glendenning, was Bishop of Glasgow in 1408, but we can’t trace any other Glendenning descendant mounting the steps to a pulpit until I did so some 23 years ago.

I’m no warrior so if I have inherited anything from King Robert the Bruce it can only be determination; a refusal to give up; an urge to try, try, try again. People are divided into two categories when they are confronted with any demand, task or challenge. There are those who say, ‘It’s hopeless’, and there are those who say, ‘I’ll try’. David Livingstone once said "I will go anywhere—provided it be forward."

When we read the stories of the healing miracles of Jesus, again and again we see that it was the man or woman who was prepared to try who received the healing. There was the paralytic lowered into the room before Jesus through a hole in the roof (Mark 2:1-12); the man with the withered hand (Matthew 12:10-13); the man with leprosy (Mark 1:40-42) and many other miracles.

There are still many who doubt that the message of 1st Corinthians chapter 12 is for them. In this chapter we are told that we are all part of the body and each of us has God-given gifts by which we edify and evangelise. Yet how many will say, “I couldn’t do that” or “I haven’t the confidence” or “I wouldn’t know how.”

Many years ago a saleswoman dreamed of becoming the sales champion in her organisation. She vowed that within one year she would win the top sales award. And she did. When she was asked what she had learned about winning, she said, “Not much. I learned more about trying than I learned about winning. Trying gave me a renewed confidence to get off my backside and do something. I learned that there may be good reasons for not winning, but there are no good excuses for not trying.”

God wants us to try, to make an effort, so that others may be blessed by our example and our witness. The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in one’s determination.

Pastor Ron w4w2@bigpond.com

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