Brake, break, or broke.
Whether you label continuing as a discipline, virtue, grace, skill, lesson learned, or merely a word in the dictionary, it is the result of many other life factors. Continuing is an admixture of patience, endurance, perseverance, persistence, and several other components like diligence, tenacity, and vigilance. They are fuels that ignite our passions and move us forward. Without them we tend to de-activate our propulsion and steering systems and drift off course. Forty years ago a wise mentor offered two pieces of advice when Harriet and I changed direction from the business world to ministry---
1. Keep destinations in sight.
This step involved centering our journey around Scripture and keeping it in sight all
the time. So, for forty years three Bible verses have been displayed on my office wall
right in front of me---a life verse; a ministry verse; and a passion verse. He promised
that these Scriptures would keep me from from veering off course during my years of
pastoral ministry. He was right. On those occasions, maybe every Monday, when I
was tempted to give someone a piece of my mind or quit,, these verses reminded me
of the mission and purpose God had entrusted to me. Those framed verses help me
continue even today.
2. Understand the concepts of brake, break, or broke. Applying the brakes on occasion is essential in pursuing goals, assignments, or
mission. In the 5 Steps to the Finish Line last week applying the brakes is Step 3: The
Step of Perspective. Learning to apply the brakes gives us the opportunity to assess
progress, analyze the twists and turns in our projected course, make necessary
adjustments, and then continue. In that same lesson break is Step 5: The Step Away,
moments of refreshment, relaxation, and restoration. He emphasized that ignoring
brake and break would result in broke---worn out machinery, empty fuel supplies, and
loss of direction, sure obstacles to continuing.
Break, brake, and broke resonate because life is often depicted in metaphors of movement---most notably a race. Distance is often the breaking point in visualizing and reaching the end. In Scripture we read---
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay
aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the
race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who
for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is
seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12: 1-2, ESV
Here we are challenged to run the race of life with endurance, with Jesus Christ being our model. We are to "fix our eyes on..." him, the NIV translation most familiar to us, when considering the idea of enduring. Solomon also wrote similar wisdom---
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,
nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge,
but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish that
are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man
are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.
Ecclesiastes 9: 11-12, ESV
Again, speed isn't the deciding factor in finishing this life race. Since we humans don't know the ups and downs of time we must accomplish our goals wisely, and with the many attributes of continuance. The Apostle Paul also wrote about this race---
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in
such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9: 24, ESV
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7, ESV
A wise spokesman captured the human spirit in a quote that recently dropped out of a ministry file from back in the '80s, perhaps during our seminary years. It concluded that modern humans "worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship". Correctly identifying the author of such profound brilliant humor has been more running in circles. It's mostly attributed to Gordon Dahl, author of Work, Play, and Worship in A Leisure Oriented Society (Fortress Publishers, 1972). This saying has often been accurate of the break, brake, or broke needs so necessary in running this race, especially the truth of working at our play. Our play times are often more laborious than the hours we spend on the job, resulting in a further depletion of the fuels to continue. Learning to take genuine momentary breaks may be another course in personal growth.
Call it what you will---discipline, grace, skill, or whatever---continuing in any life pursuit is having the will, passion, desire, and means to go the distance, especially those with eternal significance. Regarding the matters of faith and mission, what the Apostle Paul wrote to his younger colleague Timothy challenges me---
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing
from whom you learned it.
2 Timothy 3:14, ESV
Continuing means to stay the course, go the distance, weather the storms, pay the price, hit the orange button, keep on keeping on, and all of our other quips and trendy jargon. Learning to factor break, brake, or broke into our life processes will keep our systems in order and our fuel tanks full.