By David Chancey
The surprising Atlanta Braves are celebrating their return to the World Series. And many of us are staying up late, hanging on every pitch. As the team fought through a difficult season, manager Brian Snitker often referred to “the grind.”
“We’ll keep grinding,” he repeatedly stated in interviews after wins and losses, talking about pushing through the long baseball season with determination, resilience, and purpose.
Their goal? Win their division and make the playoffs, then advance through the playoffs to the World Series. Then conquer their World Series opponent (Houston Astros) to become baseball’s champions!
The grind endures whatever comes. The Braves overcame injuries to key players, lost a silver slugger to an off the field incident, and suffered through a first half that showed little promise for a successful season.
The 2021edition of the Braves present a striking picture of perseverance. They never quit and never let up. Neither must we.
Here are four words of encouragement to help us persevere:
Don’t quit – keep pressing. Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Swimmer Florence Chadwick preferred the open water to swimming pools. The long-distance swimmer at age 10 became the youngest person to swim across the mouth of San Diego Bay.
In 1952, she attempted to swim the 26 miles from Catalina Island to the California coastline. She was flanked by small boats that watched for sharks and focused on her. The distance was challenging, as were the bone-chilling waters of the Pacific. Then dense fog set in after about 15 hours of swimming.
Chadwick kept swimming, never seeing further than the boat in front of her. She began to complain about the water. Her mother in the boat ahead kept encouraging her. Her trainer in the boat behind kept cheering, also.
After 15 chilling hours, she’d had enough and gave up, only to discover a few minutes later that she quit a half mile from her goal.
She told reporters, “If I could have seen land, I might have made it.” Two months later she tried again, this time finishing and breaking the men’s record by two hours.
Don’t quit – exercise patience. Doug and Evelyn Knapp served as agricultural missionaries for a quarter of a century in a remote area of Tanzania. Africans living nearby believed the Knapps practiced black magic and came to kill them and steal their blood.
The Knapps overcame this superstition by showing kindness and operating a demonstration farm which produced unusual results. African farmers initially ran from the missionaries, but then began walking up to the fence to ask agricultural questions. Doug gave away packets of seeds that the farmers used to gather an abundant harvest for themselves.
One day a farmer asked Knapp the reason for his kindness. Knapp invited the man for tea and told him, “I have come with a message from Kyala, the one true God, about what you can plant in your life so you can have an abundant harvest of good things there also. Do you want to hear about that?”
The man gave Knapp permission to share the gospel and asked Jesus into his life. That breakthrough led to a harvest of over 50,000 souls during their 25 years.
(Lea, Galatians: Saved by Grace, Convention Press, 1994, p. 117).
Thankfully, the Knapps stayed with it.
Don’t quit – keep praying. Take a moment to review Luke 11:5-10, Jesus’ story about the man knocking on someone’s door at midnight. Can you imagine? Offering food to his unexpected guest, even at this hour, was customary in the Middle East. However, the man didn’t have any food. He couldn’t call Door Dash or run out to Falafel House.
So, he ran over to a neighbor’s house to get some food. The sleepy neighbor answered, “Go away. I’m asleep, my kids are asleep, and my door is shut.”
The man knocked, refusing to give up. He didn’t go home, and because of his persistence the sleepy neighbor rose and supplied his request. Jesus used the story to remind us our heavenly Father wants to give us good things, but He commands us to keep on asking, seeking and knocking.
Don’t quit – overcome difficulties. That’s what the Braves did, and, with God’s strength, so can we.