The tortoise and the hare. You already know the story. An unlikely contest and an even more unlikely outcome.
There is a valuable lesson here. In a society that values those who can run faster, throw harder, put a basketball through a hoop more frequently than anyone else, it is hard to feel like you have a chance for any success in life if you don't measure up.
There is a secret to living a successful life even if you don't have a multi-million dollar contract to run fast or jump high. It is the same secret the tortoise knew in his contest against the hare -- perseverance and patience. In other words don't get discouraged because you aren't the smartest, or the fastest or one who can brag the most; just keep doing what is right and don't quit.
Paul the apostle wrote in Galatians 6.9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Doing what is right and not giving up always will cause us to be a success.
Doing good starts with a relationship with Jesus as your savior and then living a life that is patterned after his. Even when it is hard, doing right always is the right thing to do.
In Proverbs 30. 24-28 is recorded the Bible's version of the tortoise and hare story. It reads this way:
"Four things on Earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; marmots are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the rocks; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings' palaces.
What lessons are there to be learned here for our lives? What can we learn from ants, marmots, grasshoppers and lizards?'
What we can learn are some successful principles of life even from seemingly weak and insignificant creatures. The lessons are these:
n From the ant we learn there is great power in planning ahead. The ant gathers its food in the day it is plentiful and stores it away against the day there will be no food. Conventional wisdom says "play today, work tomorrow." We might say the same thing with "buy now, pay later."
To live successfully, it is always the right thing to do to plan ahead, use wisdom. When others seem to be living the high lift on credit, it feels like the wrong thing to do work hard and pay as you go. The reward doesn't come until later when foresight and wisdom saves you from ruin.
The ant may not be the mightiest in the animal kingdom, but he succeeds because he plans ahead.
n From the marmot, we learn that building a strong home is wise. Jesus taught the wise man built his house on the rock and the foolish man built his house on the sand. When the rain fell and the floods rose, the house on the rock stood firm while the house on the sand was washed away.
Jesus taught that he was the rock on which we are to build our lives and our homes. Any other foundation is like sand. The high rate of failed marriages and broken homes attest to the fact many build upon foundations that become sand when troubled times come.
The marmot may not be the smartest animal, but he knows how to build a strong house.
n From the locust, we learn there is great value in working together. It is true you can go faster and farther if you travel alone. It is more difficult to travel in groups. However, you can't get nearly as much accomplished as when you work together with others.
Teamwork is a must to get much accomplished. In the age of individualism, greater success demands that we value the power of the group more than just ourselves. Instead of insisting on just our own needs and our own opinions, working together will create a lot of success.
The locust may not be the best looking thing to come along, but it succeeds because it knows how to work together.
n From the lizard, we learn there is great value in not bragging about your plans. Let your success speak for itself. Don't loudly announce your plans only to call attention to your failure.
If the lizard called attention to all of its plans, you wouldn't find him in the palace. Instead he quietly goes about his business and lives like a king. We should be so wise.
The lizard may not be the most inspiring of all creatures, but he knows how to keep his mouth shut and live successfully.
So, in summary, you may not be the strongest, smartest, best looking or know how to brag about your accomplishments like others, but that doesn't rule out your chances of great success.
God is where all true success begins and where we find the resources to make it last. Instead of comparing ourselves with others who dazzle us with their talent and abilities and seem off to a fast start, look to those who may not be as flashy but finish well. There we will find the secret of a life well lived.
The Rev. Stephen Brown ministers at the Kenai New Life Assembly of God, 209 Princess St. in Kenai.
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