(Read from beginning to page with animal friends running away)
Yep this is the same Horton who Heard a Who, and this is where we first hear his philosophy “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant is faithful one hundred percent.”
Is the book familiar to anyone? This was one of Seuss’s first books, it was published for the first time in 1940, fourteen years before the sequel, and it was one of the books that my parents read to me when I was little. In the part that I read this morning you were introduced to the two main character’s Horton the Elephant and Mayzie the bird. Now if we were to continue to read the story we would discover how Horton was captured by hunters and that he and the tree, and the nest and the egg were sold to a circus, where people paid to see an elephant sitting in a tree. And it is when the circus stops in Palm Beach that Mayzie re-enters the story. She seems mildly amused that Horton is still sitting on the silly egg until the egg begins to hatch and then we pick up the story again. (Read from “But at that very instant, the egg burst apart” to End of the book)
And there are really two lessons that we discover in the book. From Mayzie we learn the cost of quitting while from Horton we discover the reward of persistence. But really, most of us know that already. We have lived our lives long enough to have discovered the reality that we won’t accomplish a lot in this life if we quit too soon. We know that, but many of us still quit when we should keep working at whatever it is we are working at. We quit our efforts to improve ourselves, we quit relationships, we quit our jobs. And the reasons sometimes seem valid, we are tired, we aren’t seeing the benefits soon enough, we see a better opportunity, we are criticized or we just don’t want to do it anymore.
The problem is that in many cases when you quit it doesn’t just mean you don’t continue to go forward often times you go backwards. So, if you’ve been losing weight and you quit your weight loss program too often you don’t just stay at that point you actually gain back the weight you’ve already lost. When you stop exercising you don’t plateau you fall back, when you quit learning your mind begins to atrophy, when you quit a relationship you have to start all over building trust, when you quit a job you lose your seniority.
And I realize that sometimes there are good reasons for quitting but often times the reason are rooted in the here and now and aren’t focused on the long term. And that is why Paul warns the early believers about the dangers of quitting. Let’s go back to the scripture that was read earlier, we are told in Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
In Galatians 6:8 Paul talks about those who live to please the Spirit, that’s us, Christians. And he tells us that we will be rewarded for the good we have done, but then he adds, if,if,if,if,if,if,if,if,if we do not give up.
One of the methods we use to prove a mathematical equation is by induction, which is by trying the converse of the equation. That is to say that a+b=c but only when c-b=a. Now if you are like me you say “But letters aren’t math, numbers are math, letters are spelling.” So let’s regress and say that 2+3=6 but only if 6-3=2. Which it doesn’t.
Now I have said all of that to say this, we will be rewarded if we do not give up, so if we give up we will not be rewarded. In other words don’t quit. Falling down is not fatal, staying down is.
Don’t let your defeats defeat you; realize that no problem will last forever. Every mountain has a top, every hill has a summit, every tunnel has an end and every night has a dawn.
I’m sure that every one of us could think of some reasons why we should chuck everything and give up whatever it is that we are doing. Don’t tell me why you can’t go on, don’t tell me why you have to quit. People have told me why they were quitting as a spouse, why they were quitting as a parent, why they were quitting their job or why they were quitting school. And they had pretty good reasons and do you know what? I don’t want to hear, because I know that you’ll have a good reason, but good reasons aren’t what God is looking for.
You say but pastor you just don’t know what I’m going through. I’ve got problems. Yes, I do know and this may sound callous but we all got problems. Very seldom do I get a telephone call where someone calls to tell me “Pastor I just called to tell you I’ve got a perfect marriage.”, or “Pastor I am just thrilled to death with my teenager, he fills my heart with joy every minute of every day.” or “Pastor Guptill. God is blessing and I have more money than I have bills.” I don’t get phone calls like that.
Our Christian life is not a rose garden, children can get sick, we can be fired and spouses can be unfaithful. But God has a very special message for you, and this is it, “don’t give up, don’t quit.” If the devil doesn’t bother you it’s probably because he doesn’t think you are worth the bother.
The Christian life is not made up exclusively of mountain top experiences, because if you are progressing then you will find that between the mountains are often valleys. In this congregation there are broken dreams, and destroyed promises and heartaches. And God has a very special message for you, “Don’t give up, don’t lose heart.” We will be rewarded if we don’t let our problems defeat us.
All too often instead of talking about our victories we talk about our failures. We talk about our short comings, you know, “My biggest problem is that I’m indecisive or at least I think I am.”
But the truth is that the thing which will determine the success or failure of our Christian life is not the defeats, and it’s not the shortcomings. The criteria that God will use to judge us will not be the valleys we go through, but how we react while we are in those valleys. Do we quit or do we keep on keeping on.
Don’t lose heart and don’t quit. Well the question then is this, why do people quit? I mean face it we live in a society of quitters. In a society where if things aren’t just up to snuff it’s easier to bail out then to correct the problem. That’s why we have a divorce rate in Canada of over forty percent. It’s easier to quit then to solve the problems in the marriage. We just quit and try again. But that seems to make it easier to quit again because the divorce rate for second marriages is almost seventy-five percent. What does that tell us?
So when work gets to hard we quit, when the church has problems we quit, when we find school too tough or too boring we quit. The problem is that every time we quit, it’s easier to quit next time and we go through life quitting everything, and we never stretch and we never grow and we never become everything we could and should be.
But why do we quit? Because if can answer that question, if we can identify why we are tempted to quit then maybe we won’t have to.
1) Some People Quit Because of Criticism Let me share with you some incredible wisdom I have acquired over the years, anyone who ever does anything, anyone whoever says anything, anyone who ever stands for anything will be criticized. And you can take that to the bank.
You can’t please everyone. Not even God can please everyone. As many of you know I love convertibles and so during the summer I pray “Lord let it be nice so I can put the roof down on my car.” At the same time there are selfish gardeners and farmers who are praying, “Lord let it rain so my crops will grow.”
The church is doing great things, we are growing, exciting things are happening, and some people love us for that and some people really aren’t that impressed at all. I guess we’ll have to let God decide.
You aren’t the first person to be criticized nor will you be the last. How about when God asked Noah to build a boat, 450 foot long, 75 foot wide, and 45 foot high, in the middle of the desert? I mean first he found out the zoning was all wrong and his back yard was zoned for light agriculture and not heavy industry.
And then during the 98 years it took him to build the thing think of the rumours and abuse he had to put up with. “What are you building Noah, a house?” “Nope, I’m building a boat.” “A boat, but there’s no water Noah.” “Oh but there will be”
“Sure Noah, sure. Hey everyone have you heard about Noah, Lamech’s son. He’s gone around the twist, he hasn’t got both oars in the water, the lights are on but nobodies home.”
Listen up criticism will not spell failure, but your reaction to criticism might. Regardless of what people say, and how they say it, don’t give up, don’t quit, fail not, don’t lose heart. Let God be the judge. Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “If I tried to read, much less answer, all the criticisms made of me and all the attacks levelled against me. This office would have to be closed for all other business. I do the best I know how, the very best I can. And I mean to keep on doing this, down to the very end. If the end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I had been right would make no difference. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me now will not amount to anything.”
Remember the moon wouldn’t shine if it paid attention to the dogs that barked at it. There are two reasons why people are critical, listen up if you are criticized or if you are a criticizer. The first reason is because it is easier to criticize it then to do it. There are two types of people in this world, those who do things and those who sit back and demand to know why it wasn’t done their way.
The second reason is that critical people are usually little people, I don’t mean little physically I mean little emotionally, and little spiritually and they are trying to cut you down to their level because it is a lot easier to bring you down then to pull themselves up.
2) Some People Quit Is Because of Self-Doubt . Some people quit because they lack the confidence to continue they might believe in what they are trying to do but they don’t believe in themselves. They talk themselves into failure. “How in the world could somebody as worthless as me make a contribution, I’m nothing but a failure, I’m good for nothing and nobody loves me, and I might as well just go over and sit in the corner and nobody will ever miss me or care.”
If you think you have lost you probably have. If you have told yourself you can’t do it then you probably can’t. Remember what Leo Tolstoy wrote in War and Peace “We lost because we told ourselves we lost.”
I’ll tell you what, you tell yourself that long enough and you’ll believe it, believe it long enough and you’ll become it. Friend you are not worthless, you are special, and you are a wonderful, magnificent marvellous creation. There has never been anyone like you before and there’ll never be anyone life you again. You are unique; you are a masterpiece of God.
Listen up on the first five days God pioneered success with the creation of this beautiful world. But on the sixth day God personalized success by creating man in his own image, covering him in skin, stuffing 263 bones in wrapping them in 500 muscles and then starting that six inch by four inch miracle called your heart pumping.
And it pumps, and it pumps, and as long as it pumps it needs to remind you of how special you are, and it pumps 70 times a minute, 4200 times and hour, 108,000 times a day, 36,792,000 times a year. And by the time you have lived to be seventy then your heart will have beat some 2,575,440,00 times. And you wonder why you feel tired.
And every time it beats it pumps 2 1/2 ounces of blood through 96,000 kms of arteries, veins and capillaries. That is 175 ounces a minute, 656 pounds an hour, 7.9 tons a day, 2873 tons a year, that is 201,130 tons in a seventy year life, or 402,260,000 pounds. Trust me you are special, you are a child of the King. He put a lot of thought into you. You are not a nothing and you have absolutely no right to belittle yourself.
We each need to take the words of David to heart when he prayed to God in Psalm 139:13-14 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
If you look at a piece of art and say “That is really garbage”, are you criticizing the art or the artist? Ultimately your criticism is of the artist, and when you criticize yourself it is blasphemy against God. Don’t quit.
3) Some People Quit Because Discouragement . They have tripped and fallen so many times that they feel like it would be a whole lot easier to stay right where they are then to get back up. Came out of the back door of our house in Truro one February morning, a light snow was falling and I didn’t notice the ice on the top step. Man you want to see this much preacher sailing through the air. And I remember distinctly thinking when I landed, “I wonder if I could just stay here until spring.” I hurt so much that I didn’t know if it was worth the effort getting back up.
Ever feel like that? But listen up, the test of your character isn’t what it takes to keep you going, it’s what it takes to stop you, to make you quit, to say I’m through. Babe Ruth, the man who was known as the home run king in professional baseball is the same man who struck out 1330 times.
I was brought up with a poem that my mother kept on the door of the fridge.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
when he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst, that
You Must Not Quit.
It was Richard Nixon who said “Defeat doesn’t finish a man—quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”
If God commands you not to quit, then he will provide the grace that you will need to keep going. If you quit you will never know what you might have accomplished. If you quit: it will be easier to quit again. If you quit you will lose your dream. If you quit you will damage your self-esteem. But if you do quit then you need to understand that not only will you affect your life but you will affect the life of those around you. You don’t live in a bubble and you might be the inspiration that someone needs to keep going, as long as you don’t quit.
Two thoughts to close the first comes from George Patton “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”
The second is much more important because it is God’s promise for you Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Now let’s personalize it. Galatians 6:9 I will not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time I will reap a harvest of blessing if I don’t give up.