Having The Persistence To Win

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Is there a goal that you are pursing?  How badly do you want to achieve it?

What are you willing to endure to achieve your goal or arrive at your destination?

Are you willing to be inconvenienced or even ridiculed?

Consider the story of Alvin Straight.  At 73 years of age, Alvin wanted to see his brother Henry, who was 80 and whom he had not seen in ten years.  Alvin felt an urgency about his visit as his brother had just suffered a stroke and his health was declining.

Alvin didn’t have a driver’s license because of impaired vision and he didn’t trust public transportation.  The only thing that Alvin did trust was his John Deere lawnmower even though it was nearly thirty years old.

Alvin attached a ten-foot trailer filled with gasoline, food, clothes and a sleeping bag to his John Deere lawn mower and on July 5, 1994, he took off to see his brother Henry.

By the way, Alvin lived in Laurens, Iowa and Henry lived in Wisconsin.  Alvin made the 240-mile trip driving his 1966 John Deere lawnmower at a top speed of 5 miles per hour.  He drove primarily on back roads and arrived in Mount Zion, Wisconsin six weeks later.

Alvin’s journey was memorialized by a 1999 Walt Disney movie entitled “The Straight Story” which was directed by David Lynch and featured 78-year-old Richard Farnsworth as Alvin.  The movie was so touching that Farnsworth was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor that year.


In addition to his acting accolades, Farnsworth was honored because he was terminally ill with bone cancer during the shooting of the film.  His condition caused the paralysis of his legs which was worked in as part of the film.

Sadly, the real Alvin Straight didn’t live to see the movie as he passed away in 1996 of a heart ailment.  He is buried in Ida Grove Cemetery in Laurens, Iowa.  Not surprisingly, his funeral procession included a 1966 John Deere lawnmower just like the one he drove.

What’s the moral of this story?

In life you may not feel like you’re getting very far in your goals. . .but don’t give up.  Persistence is the key to success and victory.

You may feel like you’re only driving 5 miles per hour on your journey to the debt free lifestyle or any other goal you’ve set for yourself … but remember Alvin Straight or maybe the story of the tortoise and the hare.  The race doesn’t always go to the fastest but to the one who never gives up or gives in.

Someone once said:

“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich and a speechwriter for President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said:

“The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job.”

What does the Word of God say about persistence?

Revelation 2:2 in the Message Bible says:

"I see what you've done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can't stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause that you never wear out.”

This is the message that the angel of the church of Ephesus was to take to them.

That’s the way I want to be remembered. . . that by hard work in fulfilling the vision that God has given me to get the Body of Christ out of debt. . .by a refusal to give up until every believer is walking in financial freedom. . .by an intolerance for the evil of debt and those who would ensnare God’s children with the bondage of debt and a commitment to be like the Energizer Bunny which keeps going and going until the mission is complete.

What does it take to be persistent. . .here’s the “straight” truth that probably Alvin Straight would tell you about seven keys to developing persistence in your life.

1.     Believe in what you’re doing.

First and foremost, you must believe in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.  If you understand your God-given purpose, then self-belief and self-motivation is much easier.

It’s imperative that you know God’s purpose for your life.  If you don’t know or you’ve never clearly defined your purpose, then I encourage you to order my teaching “How To Know God’s Purpose For Your Life.”  It’s available at our website www.haroldherring.com

Additionally, Dr. Myles Monroe wrote several books on purpose that we highly recommend and we carry them at the Christian Soldier Bookstore.

There may be times when you’re out in front of the pack or everybody else. . .and if you understand your purpose, then you never have to look in the rearview mirror.

Acts 13:41 in the New Living Translation says:

“‘Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’”

There may be times when you feel all alone while pursuing your dreams with persistence.  Just remember, once you give your heart to Jesus you’ll never be alone again.

Not only that, He’ll help you figure out what to do and where to go next.

Isaiah 48:17 in the Message Bible says:

“I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well.  I show you what to do, where to go.”

2.     Knowing that you have the ability to succeed.

There are two scriptures that sum up this second key to persistence very well.

 Matthew 17:20 in the Amplified Bible says:

“He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

“. . .Nothing will be impossible to you.”

Personalize that.  “Nothing will be impossible to Harold Herring.”

Mark 9:23 in the New International Reader’s Version says:

" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for the one who believes."

J C Penny once said, “Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal, and I will give you a stock clerk.”

3.     Keeping your faith focused on your goal.

Two things about your faith.

First, don’t allow doubt to sneak in.

Matthew 21:21 in the New Living Translation says:

“Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.”

Second, do not underestimate the importance that exercising your faith in the pursuit of your goals or the things God has called you to accomplish.

 2 Thessalonians 1:11 in the New Living Translation says:

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”

From this scripture it’s clear to me that there will be challenges along the way but we are to keep the faith. . .and keep praying. . .both of which will keep us focused on our objective.

4.     Never look at the wind and the waves.

When you take your eyes off your goal and begin to look at your circumstances you’ll end up in deep water.

Matthew 14:28-30 in Amplified Bible says:

And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus.  But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]!”

Everything was good with Peter as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus (the Word) but when he began to focus on his surroundings instead of the prize. . .he began to sink.

Just for a fact, Peter had to have walked out on the water for quite a ways before he took his eyes off Jesus otherwise he could have just grabbed the side of the boat.

5.     Realize that “no” doesn’t just mean “no” it often means “know.”

On your journey there will be times when people tell you “no” simply because they don’t “know” all the facts or else they would make a decision in your favor.

There is a good friend of ours who at one point complained about the 27% interest rate on her credit card. . .I told her to call her credit card company and ask them to reduce the rate.  I suggested she write down the name of the person she spoke with and also talk with a supervisor.  I suggested she keep calling until she could find someone who could say yes to her.

When MeLisa was over to our house about six weeks later, she told me that she now had a 9% interest rate.

Just as I was saying “Praise the Lord,” she added, “And it only took 46 phone calls.”

I was so blown away and blessed by her persistence . . .but there’s a message in this. . . persistence produces results.  Going from an interest rate of 27% down to 9% is huge . . . but not impossible!

Here’s the difference for her.

With a $5,000 balance at 27% interest with a 3% minimum payment. . .it would have taken her 423 months (35 years and 3 months) to pay off this credit card.  She would have paid $14,289.66 in interest alone.

With a $5,000 balance at 9% interest with a 3% minimum payment. . .it would take her 158 months (13 years and 2 months) to pay the card off.  She would end up paying $1,607.35 in interest.

That’s a difference 22 years and 1 month in payments for a total savings in interest of $12.682.31.  Plus, as she added more to the minimum payment. . .  well, you get the idea.

6.     Encourage yourself.

There are going to be times where you will need to encourage yourself because no one else is around to do it.

1 Samuel 30:6 says:

“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”

The best way to encourage yourself is to recall all that God has done for you in the past.  I can tell you from personal experience that this re-ignites your passion and determination for success.

You need to develop a “Did I Ever Tell You About The Time?” speech.  When the enemy attacks here’s just a sample of what you can say:

“Did I ever tell you about the time when I was a sinner going to hell and Jesus reached down, picked me up and planted my feet on the solid rock?

“Did I ever tell you about the time I lost my job and He provided a better job for me?

“Did I ever tell you about the time when there was no food in our house and Jesus had someone bring food to my door?

“Did I ever tell you about the time when my son/my daughter was hooked on drugs and God set them free?

“Did I ever tell you about the time when I was driving down the Interstate highway when my angel moved my car over to keep me from being in a head-on accident?

“Did I ever tell you about the time when the doctor gave me a bad report but Jesus healed my body?

“Did I ever tell you how good my God is to me?”

That is the kind of confession the enemy hates but we strongly encourage you to develop and personalize your own “Did I Ever Tell You?” confession.

7.     Never Give Up or Give In.

When you feel like giving up. . .don’t.

The attack may be intense. . .the adversity more than you can seemingly bare but never give up.

Here’s what I know to be true.  Luke 18:1 in the New Living Translation says that you’re to never give up. . . but rather pray about the next step you should take.

“[Parable of the Persistent Widow] One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.

A winner persists even in the face of defeat.  That may seem like a strange story but consider the story of a Tanzanian runner John Stephen Ahkwari who finished last in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.  However, 53 years later, he is almost as well known as Mamo Wolde, from Ethiopia, who won the race.

During the race Stephen fell several times and sustained noticeable injuries with blood dripping down his leg.  In fact, there was an ambulance that followed him as he was finishing the race.

Doctors begged him to stop but he wouldn’t.  He continually refused their offers of assistance and kept running through the streets of Mexico City.

As Stephen entered the Olympic Stadium for that final lap. . .the audience stood and cheered louder and more passionately than they did for Mamo who had crossed the finish line one and a half hours earlier.

Stephen limped across the finish line practically carrying his bloody and bandaged leg.  When he was asked why he continued the race in the face of painful injuries Stephen said:

“My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race; they sent me to finish it.”

There is an equally chilling quote by Adlai E. Stevenson, a two-time nominee for President, who said:

“On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting, died.”

Persistence and obedience are keys to success in life.

One final thought; your victory may be just around the bend or over the next hill so persist until you cross the finish line.

Dale Carnegie, the author of How To Win Friends and Influence People said:

“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.”

However, one of our very favorite quotes on persistence comes from President Calvin Coolidge

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone as omnipotent.”

There may be times in your life when you feel like you’re only driving 5 miles per hour toward your goal . . .  but here’s the good news that Alvin Straight found out . . . through persistence you will reach your destination.

Booker T. Washington very wisely said:

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

Here are a couple more quotes on persistence,

“Persistence is what gives losers a winner’s edge.

 Persistence is what makes winners out of losers, what makes winners out of quitters.”

Revelation 2:2 MSG

“I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause that you never wear out.”

Before we finish this program. . .we’d like to share Ephesians 3:20 with you.  This translation is from the Passion Bible.

“Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.”

By the way, God showed us seven keys to living the blessed life.  Unless God directs otherwise. . .we going to teach Ephesians 3:20 on our next broadcast.

Be sure to join us every Thursday night at 7:30 on WHFL-TV.