Friday, February 8, 2008

Just when you are ready to quit

I was reading some people's stories of faith and pushing forward some time back when the following story came to mind, quoting from Charles Swindoll's "Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life".

---- Quote ----

I fear our generation has come dangerously near the "I'm-getting-tired-so-let's-quit-mentality". And not just in the spiritual realm. Dieting is a discipline, so we stay fat. Finishing school is a hassle, so we bail out. Cultivating a close relationship is painful, so we back off. Getting a book written is demanding, so we stop short. Working through conflicts in marriage is a tiring struggle, so we walk away. Sticking with an occupation is tough, so we start looking elsewhere ....

Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous composer pianist, was scheduled to perform at a great concert hall in America. It was an evening to remember - black tuxedoes and long evening dresses, a high-society extravaganza. Present in the audience that evening was a mother with her fidgety nine-year old son. Weary of waiting, he squirmed constantly in his seat. His mother was in hopes that her boy would be encouraged to practice the piano if he could just hear the immortal Paderewski at the keyboard. So, against his wishes, he had come.

As she turned to talk with her friends, her son could stay seated no longer. He slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the ebony concert-grand Steinway and its leather-tufted stool, staring wide-eyed at the black and white keys. He placed his small trembling fingers in the right location and began to play "chopsticks". The roar of the crowd was hushed as hundreds of frowning faces turned in his direction. Irritated and embarrassed, they began to shout:

"Get that boy away from there!"
"Who'd bring a kid that young in here?"
"Where's his mother?"
"Somebody stop him."

Backstage, the master overheard the sounds out front and quickly put together in his mind what was happening. Hurriedly, he grabbed his coat and rushed toward the stage. Without one word of announcement, he stooped over behind the boy, reached around both sides and began to improvise a counter melody to harmonize and enhance "chopsticks". As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy's ear:

"Keep going. Don't quit, son. Keep on playing. Don't stop. Don't quit."

And so it is with us. We hammer away on our project which seems about as significant as "chopsticks" in a concert hall. And about the time we are ready to give up, along comes a master, who leans over and whispers:

"Now keep going. Don't quit. Don't stop. Don't quit".

---- unquote ----

I suspect for many of us, as we drive our projects we sometimes feel like this - that we are so close to something that we can almost taste it. However, for one reason or another, whether it's because your project has taken too much time, energy or money up to now, or whether you face derision, lack of support or a cacophony of negativity from those around you or perhaps you are thinking that maybe the world doesn't need you and your little project, you decide to give up on your project, your passion and in some ways, a piece of you.

I believe that the “master" as described in this story is closer than you think, that one person who can make a difference, that one person who can pick up your hopes and that one person who can stoke your passion from embers back into a burning desire to see your project through to fruition beyond your wildest dreams.

The "master" may or may not be a person. Maybe the master comes in the form of a good friend or family member. Maybe it comes in the form of a serendipitous event in your life, one that comes out of nowhere but gives you the strength or enlightenment to get back on course. It may come in the form of a chance encounter with a stranger, whose actions or words change your way of thinking. Maybe you are the master who takes stock of the incredible miracle that you are, causing you to realize that you WILL push this through to the end. For some of you, the master may manifest in a spiritual form or belief.

Whoever / whatever form the master takes for you, keep in mind that when you are feeling like it is time to quit, please stop and be aware of what is swirling around you. A helping hand is closer than you think. Look for it, be open to it and embrace it when it arrives and listen to the "master" when it whispers in your ear:

"Now keep going. Don't quit. Don't stop. Don't quit".

Take care and be well. Thank you all for being the miracles that you are.


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