They say a picture is worth a thousand words and very often this is true. There's a picture that I'm certain many of you have seen. It was circulated widely around twenty years ago. I scanned it into my computer and pull it up from time to time when I need a good encouraging laugh. This picture was so inspirational that when we were pastors we had a ten foot by ten foot painting made of it on plywood and it was displayed on our building for all passers-by to see for several years. Now we have it mounted on a tree in our front yard where passer-bye's can easily see it.
In the picture a large stork had caught a frog for dinner. The frog's head was in the mouth of the bird but the frog also had both hind legs straddle of the bird's beak and a choke hold around the bird's throat with his front feet. The caption above the picture read, "Don't Ever Give Up!"
Over the years that picture has indeed been worth a thousand words to me because many have been the days that I wanted to just quit. Debbie and I both were trying to hold down full-time jobs, struggling to make ends meet, raise our two children and take care of a growing congregation. There were weeks when it seemed our financial world was crashing in on us, weeks when it seemed there was hardly time to take a shower, and days when you just wanted to find a rock to crawl under and hide out for a while.
It seems that life today is like that. You don't have to be a pastor to understand my point. Many today are struggling. Some are fighting to find a job to pay the never-ending avalanche of financial obligations while others are working so many hours because their employers won't hire enough people to get the work done that each day feels like an eternity and life is rush, rush, hurry, hurry. You are giving 110% and your boss wants 150%.
When life gets to this point it seems like the best thing to do is to just quit. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything, even quitting. But we just can't quit on life. When it gets that way for me then it's time to pull out that picture and experience the Gospel of the frog DON'T EVER GIVE UP! That frog knows that with the choke hold he's got on the bird that it can't hold its breath forever and sooner or later the bird is going to spit the frog out. And that's what we've got to do with life too.
In 2 Samuel 2:17-21 we
read the story of Asahel. He was chasing after Abner, the general of the Israeli army that had attacked David. At that time David was only king over Judah. Asahel would not stop chasing after Abner. The general was a powerful man and very crafty. He warned Asahel to stop chasing him but the Bible tells us that Asahel ignored his warnings. Apparently there were other men of Abner's army running alongside of them. The general told Asahel to turn aside and take one of the other men. Wouldn't that be victory enough? But Asahel said nothing and wouldn't turn to the right or left but continued his chase after Abner. Another man was not good enough. Only catching up with the general would complete his goal.
That's the way life is. We've got to keep our eyes on the goal. Our enemy, the devil, tempts us sometimes daily to settle for something less. Surely just living a good life will suffice. Turn to the right or left and be satisfied with that. But our eyes are on the prize of the high calling of Christ. It may seem we'll never grasp it, but we've got to keep on going.
It may seem the devil is about to consume us. Perhaps it looks as if he's already won. But I tell you: straddle his beak; grab him by the neck and maintain your choke hold because sooner or later our enemy will let go of us. Don't be discouraged with the misfortunes and the unfairness of life. Instead, hold your head high, not in false pride, but in sheer determination and DON'T EVER GIVE UP!