For the past couple of years I have been taking my grandson Ben to different playgrounds in our area. He has been attracted to the monkey bars as he has observed older children moving across the span of bars one hand at a time. Wanting to be able to accomplish the feat of swinging from bar to bar from start to finish, he would ask me to hold him up to help him grab hold of the first bar. Then he wanted me to stay with him to catch him in case he fell. Each time he got on the bars his strength and endurance increased. This past week he tasted victory! The playground at Makefield Elementary School has monkey bars with 20 loops to swing across. One by one he moved—slowly, carefully—until he accomplished what he has wanted to do for a long time. We celebrated his mastery of the monkey bars. Go Ben!!
As I reflect on Ben's victory I see that he demonstrated some disciplines that helped him accomplish success. Every time we went to a playground Ben practiced on the monkey bars--getting stronger and stronger. With the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul talked about the importance of practicing. "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:9)
Another trait that Ben exhibited is perseverance. The writer of Hebrews tells us, "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." (Hebrews 10:36) After describing the people of great faith in the Bible, he also gives us this advice: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1-2)
This leads us to one other discipline that is so important—keeping our eyes fixed on the goal. Ben knew what he wanted to accomplish and kept his goal before him. Paul describes well the journey of a Christian moving step by step toward the goal that God has laid before us. "...I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14)
Let us practice, persevere and keep our eyes fixed on the goal. Jesus is our role model. He will lead us on the path that leads to victory!
Joan E. Mathias