Although I was never a great athlete, I loved playing football as a teen. Because I loved that sport, our coaches encouraged us to play on the basketball team, baseball team, or get a job doing physical labor in the off season to build up stamina and strength. Being able to play ball in high school was great, but I soon realized that playing at that level and playing for college or even beyond was far beyond my skill set. For one to reach that level of play requires talent and ability, but it also demands extreme dedication in training to build every part of one’s body to the maximum potential.
Having been a pastor for over 45 years now, I have seen some of the same applications in spiritual stamina that I have witnessed in sports. Some youngsters “burn out” before they ever reach high school sports because the sport is just not their passion. They are “fascinated” but not “faithful” to excel in developing as a champion.
Many folks are fascinated with Jesus and faith issues. They want forgiveness of sin and a home in heaven, but they have little desire to pursue holiness, Godliness, or righteousness. There is no desire to abandon things of this world to embrace those things which are eternal. So, they “play” church for a little while, and then drift away. Some even complain that the church just did not meet their needs. In truth, they never stepped up to “faithfully” serve. They showed up as consumers and left when they got (or failed to get) what they sought. It reminds me of young men who simply wanted a jersey to wear, but never had any intention of paying the price to play. Where there is little faith there will be no faithfulness to the task whatever it is. We admire those people that were so dedicated that they persevered and refused to quit so that they were able to do great things and inspire others through their determination.
One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.
A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words—“Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country—those who have remained faithful. (Copied).