In Praise of People and Things That Last
How would you like to travel forty times around the earth? Or make two round trips to the moon – at 60 miles per hour – each trip taking about three years? Or travel from New York to Los Angeles, then back again, more than 350 times?
In February 2008, Frank Oresnik, of Catawba, Wisconsin, USA, accomplished the equivalent to this in his 1991 GM pickup. The odometer in his truck passed the “one million mile mark” on February 12, 2008. But how does a “run-of-the-mill” and otherwise undistinguished pickup truck accomplish such a feat? Frank did it by perseverance. Sure, it required a lot of faithful maintenance along the way – including 300 oil changes, five transmissions, and four radiators –yet the truck’s 350-cubic inch engine has made it without a single overhaul or even a gasket change.
In our “disposable” and “throwaway” culture longevity and durability are heroic qualities. We honor baseball players like Cal Ripken, Jr. who, despite many minor injuries and chronic pain, played in 2,632 consecutive games in sixteen seasons and made the American League’s All-Star Team nineteen times. We honor men like Strom Thurmond and Robert C. Byrd who once represented the oldest and longest serving Senators in American history – Thurmond served until the age of 100. We marvel at soldiers, not only at those whose heroism blazes in the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. We also wonder at those veterans – and their families – who endure an “Army beating” for twenty to thirty years, yet survive.
Even our Lord praised the life of perseverance. Do you recall the time when the Apostles James and his brother John requested places of honor in the kingdom of God? These two men represented the first and the last of the Twelve Apostles to die in the Lord’s service. James was the first of the Twelve to die and suffer a true martyr’s death. He was beheaded. In the next three decades all the Apostles suffered violent martyrdom – all but John. John outlived the eleven and died of old age. Yet to both brothers, the first to die and the last to die, Jesus had said:
“You shall surely drink of my cup and you shall surely undergo my baptism” (Mark 10:35-40). Whether by violent death or by a long faithful life, they would both do the Lord’s bidding, drink His cup, and share His lot (Mark 10:35-40). Do not undervalue the life of perseverance.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to run with perseverance the race of faith that is set before me. Help me to fix my eyes on Jesus, the One who began His good work in me and Who will bring it to completion. Amen.