Jim Thorpe, born May 28, 1888, in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma, has been acclaimed as one of the most accomplished “all-around” athletes in history. In fact, in 1950 he was selected by American sportswriters and broadcasters as the greatest American athlete of the early 20th century.
He was predominantly of American Indian descent and attended Indian schools growing up. Financially poor and underprivileged by any standards, he was every bit rich in athletic prowess. He played it all – baseball, football, basketball, boxing, lacrosse, swimming, hockey, and most famously, track and field.
Strong as a bull and fast as lightning, Thorpe competed in the Stockholm Olympics of 1912 in both the Pentathlon and the Decathlon. But just before he was set to take the field he discovered someone had stolen his shoes. Undeterred, he searched for another pair.
What he found was not a "pair," but rather two different sized, different styled shoes discarded in a trash can. To make the larger of the two shoes fit, he had to wear extra socks.
Dressed in his pauperish, mismatched replacements, he humbly took to the field and won Gold Medals in both competitions.
God has set a race before you. He’s challenged you to ready yourself. Even so, unexpected obstacles can (and will) present themselves. It will take tenacity, courage, creativity, and maybe even a good dose of humility to stay the course.
What is YOUR excuse for not running with endurance the race which God has set before you?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us …” Heb 12:1 (ESV
One of the biggest boxing matches of the twentieth century took place on November 25, 1980, at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a rematch between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran. Duran had won the previous fight and was the favorite the second time around. He had a record of 72 wins and just one loss and he had won his last forty-one fights. That is some winning streak.
The rematch was a close fight. Only a point or two separated the two fighters on the judges’ scorecards. But then something unthinkable happened in the eighth round that no one expected. Roberto Duran turned to the referee and spoke two words: "No Mas." "No more." He quit. He wasn’t injured. He wasn’t cut. He was frustrated and he’d had enough. Here is a fighter who was one of the best to ever step into the ring. He won a total of 103 fights, but when anyone mentions his name today, the first thing that comes to mind is “no mas.” People remember the day he quit.
We have all had times when we felt like quitting. Quitting your job. Quitting the class you teach. Quitting on your marriage. Some people even give up on God. Unfortunately, every year, thousands of people in this country give up on life itself. Over 959,000, almost a million Americans, attempt suicide every year.
Some of the greatest heroes of the Bible thought about giving up. Elijah said, “Lord, go ahead and take my life. I’m finished” (1 Kings 19:4). Job said, “Cursed be the day I was born” (Job 3:1). Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. He said, “O that my eyes were a fountain of tears that I might weep day and night" (Jeremiah 9:1).
Yet, these men overcame the temptation to quit and served God faithfully. So when you are tempted to quit, remember, you are in good company. Hang in there. Keep serving. Keep being faithful. Keep doing what God wants you to do. Don't be known for the time you decided to quit.
Bathyspheres are special deep water chambers which are designed to cope with the extreme pressure at the ocean's depths. Encased in extra thick cast steel, they hold at bay the pressure that bears against them. The fish that swim just outside the portals of these vessels are not steel plated, yet they swim about carefree, completely at ease in their pressure filled environment. How do they do it? Their anatomy is fashioned to apply equal and opposite pressure from within! Their exteriors are soft and pliable, but their inward parts are tough as steel.
When life begins bearing down on us, it's easy to put on a hard exterior in order to hold the pressures and stresses at bay. But the Christian needn't become cynical or "hard" to cope with the world. Like the fish of the deep, we possess a power from within, which is able to match and equalize the opposing pressures from without.
The Apostle John put it this way, ". . . greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1John 4:4). In other words, whatever the pressures maybe on the outside, the believer has a greater power residing within.