April 6, 2009
Give It All You've Got!
by Charles R. Swindoll
It often helps to say what we have to say in as few words as possible. More often than not, we remember something a lot longer if it is brief and to the point. Maybe that's why the book of Proverbs remains such a help to so many---it's comprised of short, pithy statements that stick. But that kind of writing isn't limited to Solomon; other people who were chosen to communicate truth in the Scriptures used the same brief style.
A classic model would be Paul, who wrote the majority of the letters that have been preserved in the New Testament. A good example can be found very near the end of his first letter to his friends in Corinth---the Christians who lived in that busy, commercial metropolis in the first century, not unlike Los Angeles in the twenty-first, where life moved along at a pretty fast clip. Maybe that's why Paul chose to wrap up his words to them with a brief statement designed to grab their attention: "Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 MSG).
He punched out five staccato commands that virtually say it all. Go back and observe each one more carefully. You can feel Paul's long, bony finger pushing against your sternum, almost as if he's saying, "Now get this straight . . . keep doing it . . . and don't forget it!" His words are loaded with action, involvement, and meaningful decisions that help the reader take on life with full-throttle determination. As we unpack the sentence, the five words that appear in the middle deserve a few extra moments of our time and attention: "give it all you've got!"
When you first wake up to face a new day, give it all you've got!
When you're dealing with a tough challenge, give it all you've got!
When you need to make a difficult decision, give it all you've got!
When it's time to exercise and lift those weights, give it all you've got!
When you have to go on after a disappointment, give it all you've got!
When the day is long and you want to shut down, give it all you've got!
When a change is necessary and you must do it, give it all you've got!
When you lose someone close and have to go on, give it all you've got!
When the years pile up and you need to end well, give it all you've got!
A key element in the life of every successful person we know is dogged determination, a refusal to cave in, the discipline to stay at it, regardless. Read the biographies of the people you admire and, almost without exception, you will find those threads woven into their life-fabric.
One thousand one hundred fifty frostbitten miles of mountain ranges, blizzards, starving beasts, and frozen tundra lie between Anchorage, Alaska, and Nome, Alaska. This rugged trek is the scene of the ultimate endurance test, officially known as The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, where twelve huskies pull a sled and its driver through the most grueling, inhuman conditions you can imagine. A four-time champion was a resolute woman named Susan Butcher. Her tough-minded fixation on winning was almost beyond description. In 1990, she broke the then-winning speed record: 11 days, 1 hour, 53 minutes. Her secret? She would've told you---her own mind-set and the training of her dogs, in that order. Both give new meaning to the word serious. In Paul's words, Susan "gave it all she got."
The martyred missionary Jim Elliot used these words to say the same thing: "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."¹
1. Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale, 1981), 20.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.