“And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” Hebrews 6:15
At 2pm on Monday September 2, 2013, Diana Nyad staggered onto the beach at Key West FL after having completed a 110 mile swim from Cuba to the USA. The exhausted 60 year old had three things she wanted to say to the world: "One is we should never ever give up. Two is you are never too old to chase your dreams. And three is it looks like a solitary sport but it takes a team." These are inspiring words that are packed with meaning and hope for all of us.
This was her fifth attempt at this tremendous feat of human endurance. She had tried and failed four times before but she was determined to fulfill her dream and refused to quit. Her success was 31 years in the making. When she first attempted it the benefit of youthful vigor was available to her. But her success so many years later proves that age is no barrier to determination. Finally she expresses the value of team. What may often appear to be a solitary effort can only find success because of the team behind the apparently solitary individual.
As I think about what was accomplished by this amazing woman the noun, endurance, keeps echoing in my brain. Everything about her success screams endurance. Never give up. You’re never too old. It takes a dedicated team.
The word, endure or some variant of it appears many times in the Bible. In most of those instances it refers to the enduring nature of the love, righteousness, faithfulness or mercy of God. In other instances like the one above it refers to the faithfulness of an individual who trusted in God, like Abraham, trusting even though what God had promised seemed impossible.
Endurance takes work. Diana Nyad trained, planned, developed her team, raised funds and then swam with a determination that did not know how to quit. Having enduring faith takes work too. Abraham had to train his mind to change the way he thought, subordinate his will, get out of God’s way and trust God’s time table.
Do you have a big dream? Would you like to change the direction your life is going in? Have you made some mistakes or done some things that you regret? Motivational speaker, the late Zig Ziglar said, “Don’t let the mistakes and disappointments of the past control and direct your future.” We don’t have to give up and accept mediocrity as our norm. If we are willing to endure a little hardship, make some sacrifices and endure the discomfort of change, we can each accomplish a life that is full of meaning and purpose.
Be a blessing.
Mark A. Stoddart, M.Div.
Administrative Director for Spiritual Wellness
Shawnee Mission Medical Center