article by Paul Lipe
I REMEMBER the time my wife, Linda and I visited our daughter, Mary Linda, at her apartment in Jackson, Mississippi. Mary Linda was in her first year of medical school and was so excited, because she had just received her stethoscope and a blood-pressure measuring apparatus. Anxious to try out these new devices, she hooked me up and checked my blood pressure. Then she did the same for her mother, but this time, she was not able to get a reading. After a second failure, and a third, she looked at her mother and said, “Mom, I know you’re not dead!” To confirm this diagnosis, she persisted until she succeeded in finding a blood pressure reading!
I do not know what the problem was, but it was not due to any lack of learning skills in our daughter. In fact, she excelled in her efforts as a student, taking top academic honors in her high school class at Delhi High School, graduating with the highest honors at Belhaven University, and completing med school as an honor student. Unfortunately for me, that pretty much shoots holes in the theory that “It’s all in the genes,” doesn’t it? ‘Cause no one ever accused her of getting her smarts from her Dad.
To her credit, this set-back, as well as subsequent challenges, did not deter our daughter in her pursuit of a career in medicine. Nor did she use such as an excuse to pursue an easier path. She was convinced that God was calling her down this route, and she was determined to stay the course. Not all of us are as resolute when obstacles confront and perplex us. Sometimes it seems easier to throw in the towel than it is to stay the course. For instance, how many of our dreams have been abandoned, because the path to the pursuit of those dreams had some hills or potholes that made the going tough? We need to learn that if something is worth having, it is worth striving to attain. It was Jesus Who warned that the one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is not suited for God’s kingdom (Luke 9:62).
Some wise person observed, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The person with strong character and strong faith will persevere, until he overcomes whatever obstacle stands in his path. But this is not so easy, is it?
I confess that on occasion I get so frustrated with computers, especially the one in my cell phone, that I am tempted to long for the Stone Age! If I were not so frugal (my family and friends call me “tight”), there are times when, in my consternation, I would throw that cotton-pickin’ phone in the lake behind our house! Do these advancements in technology drive you bananas, too? I thought so. However, what would we do without them? They are here to stay – and we NEED them in order to survive, so we would be wise to try to adjust a little bit and not just decide that we’ll never be able to adapt to these new-fangled aggravations. Mary Linda was not familiar with those new devices, but she persisted and mastered them so that they became effective tools for her work. What was a momentary frustration has become a blessing.
A different trait that characterizes our daughter, and another one that she did not inherit from me, is the practice of tackling the difficult tasks upfront. Most of us probably delay those hard jobs ‘til later, because they are HARD to do, and by nature, we prefer that which is easier – not my little girl. When she enrolled in college, she discovered that she was required to take at least one science course. Science had not been one of her favorites in high school, so she decided to take Biology her first semester and then put science behind her forever. To her great surprise and delight, she enjoyed the course immensely. And her professor was outstanding in his field and was a Godly man, as well. The outcome was that she wound up majoring in biology and chemistry and in pursuing a medical career instead of some other vocation. Just imagine how different things would have been had she put off the difficult until her senior year!
May we all learn that, when we fail at some worthwhile effort or when some obstacle stands in our way, it is to our benefit to persist in that endeavor. And may we all have the wisdom to give those hard assignments top priority. Isn’t it amazing how those kinds of attitudes seem to be blessed by the One Who directs our steps? It worked for our daughter, and it will work for you.