The Microwave Society

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Twenty-Three

Have you ever thought about the lives our ancestors lived? Once our forefathers boarded ship in the Old World, there was no opportunity the next day to decide, “I don’t think I want to make this trip after all.” I’ve never read of any lifeboats or rafts on the Mayflower.

Once the first settlers arrived, they were faced with two choices—work or starve. There was no canned or deli food available from Food City. If no one went hunting, fishing or harvested a garden, there was no food for supper. Even when food was obtained, it had to be skinned, shucked or peeled before it was cooked and served. There were neither restaurants, three minute oats, nor microwave ovens. The very desire for survival ensured that our forebears must embrace what Bill Hybels identifies in his book (Who You Are When No One’s Looking: Choosing Consistency, Resisting Compromise) as the fourth of five endangered characteristics of true character—endurance.

It is so easy in our present society to avoid things that are inconvenient or uncomfortable rather than seeing them through to the finish. Eighteen year olds drop out of high school frequently, and many who pursue higher education do not receive degrees. Those who graduate sometimes expect to quickly receive jobs with salaries that match or exceed those of coworkers who have been employed for decades. When demands and expectations are not met, jobs are abandoned, sometimes even before new employment is obtained. Friendships and marriages are often abandoned when there is strife in the relationship without any attempts at reconciliation.

It has been said of those who are unsuccessful that no one wakes up in the morning with the wish to be a failure. Even the most successful people have instances when problems arise from which it might seem more pleasant in the short term to avoid. What is often not considered are the long-term consequences of hasty decisions.

It is unrealistic to believe there is a magic place on Earth where no problems or difficulties exist. Our ancestors never arrived at such a place, and neither will we. When America was founded, there were many obstacles to be overcome. There were dangers, land to be cleared, diseases, unpleasant weather, wars to be fought, and government to be established. Ships were not readily available to take our founders back to the Mother Country.

While our ancestors might have had limited opportunity to run away from their problems, it is often easier in today’s culture to quit rather than to find solutions. Newspapers frequently advertise cheap, no-contest divorces, making it easier to abandon marriage than to work out problems. When a friend disappoints, it is easier to abandon the friendship than to forgive. Lotteries and get rich/Ponzi schemes promise overnight wealth, stardom and fame, but disappointment is more often realized.

Think about those you know who are successful. The graduate successfully endured many hours of study and tests to receive the degree or diploma. The couple who has been married for fifty or more years endured years of financial difficulty, disagreements and disappointments. The worker who retires from the job with thirty years or more service endured many bosses and changes in technology. The elderly pastor or evangelist who, though in terrible pain, passes away peacefully has endured years of opposition from unbelievers and critical congregations. These are wise people who sought solutions rather than dwelling on problems, and they were rewarded with success.

It often seems easier in the short term to give up than to suffer rejection or criticism, but the long-term benefits of endurance almost always yield great benefits. Just like an insurance policy, the longer endurance is in force the greater the value.

It’s almost a guarantee that every successful person was at some point tempted to give up in fear or frustration. What determines success is endurance.
I remember a poem that I memorized in Miss Eileen Monroe’s sophomore English class at Horace Maynard High School.

KEEP A-GOIN’
If you strike a thorn or rose,
Keep a-goin'!
If it hails or if it snows,
Keep a-goin'!
'Taint no use to sit an' whine
When the fish ain't on your line;
Bait your hook an' keep a-tryin'--
Keep a-goin'!

When the weather kills your crop,
Keep a-goin'!
Though 'tis work to reach the top,
Keep a-goin'!
S'pose you're out o' ev'ry dime,
Gittin' broke ain't any crime;
Tell the world you're feelin' prime--
Keep a-goin'!

When it looks like all is up,
Keep a-goin'!
Drain the sweetness from the cup,
Keep a-goin'!
See the wild birds on the wing, 
Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
When you feel like singin', sing--
Keep a-goin'!
--Frank L. Stanton (1857-1927)

Next week I’ll discuss Hybels’ fifth and final endangered characteristic of true character.

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