If you awoke with a world of cares or a mountain of work, take heart from the pen of Theodore Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Roosevelt's words encourage and motivate me when the arena is hot and dusty and dry. Great as those words are they fail to provide the one thing I need: Power.
In the end, Mr. Roosevelt's words still leave me with me!
Isaiah is different. His words also breathe encouragement and motivation, but they point me to a power greater than me, for they point me to the Lord who gives strength to weary souls and power for uphill climbs.
Not too long ago, I read Daring Greatly, the excellent work of Dr. Brené Brown. Brené drew on Roosevelt's words for her title and her challenge to live, love, parent, and lead through courageous vulnerability.
Vulnerability, instability, infertility, irritability . . . they are just a few of the challenges folks meet "in the arena."
Which is why I must "look up." It is God who helps me overcome!
This is also why I need daily personal worship and weekly corporate worship with the family of God. Worship shifts my focus from self to God.
- Worship is acknowledging God: His goodness, His glory, His worth, HIS power.
- Worship is adoring God: His faithfulness, His kindness, His mercy, His love.
- Worship is leaning on God: His promise that He is for me.
As Eugene Peterson says,
I need this strategy. Why? Because, like you, I'm the arena today. I'm in the fight. The problem is that that I am usually preoccupied with me:
- How will I overcome this?
- How will I push through this?
- What will I do to solve this?
- How can I endure this?
- When will I get past this?
So the question I must answer today -- you must answer it too -- is whether my dusty, sweaty, and crease-lined face will look up.
It is in looking up that I can "dare greatly" for God has the power that is greater than me.