“. . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1
Of all the great stories attributed to that ancient Greek slave-storyteller known as Aesop, my favorite has always been the about “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The fable begins with the hare making fun of the tortoise for the way he creeps along, in response to which the tortoise challenges the hare to a race. The hare knew, of course, he had the ability to beat the tortoise with time to spare. So, after gaining a comfortable lead the hare decided to pause for a little nap. Meanwhile, the tortoise continued to persevere, plodding along one step at a time. Sometime later the hare awakened from his nap only to discover that while he rested the tortoise had crossed the finish line. And so goes the moral of the story, “slow and steady wins the race.”
Benjamin Franklin once suggested that, “The noblest question in the world is ‘what good may I do in it?’” William J. Bennett in his The Book of Virtues responded to Franklin’s question with this: “Hang in there!” which as he explains, “is more than an expression of encouragement to someone experiencing hardship or difficulty; it is sound advice for anyone intent on doing good in the world. Whether by leading or prodding others, or improving oneself, or contributing in the thick of things to some larger cause, perseverance is crucial to success.”
So, why is the story of the tortoise and the hare one of my favorites? Maybe it’s because I can identify with both. How cool it would be, I’ve often thought, to be the hare, fast and wily and confident. But in fact my life has been more like that of the tortoise. As a younger man I dreamed of being the fastest one out of the starting blocks, the first to climb to the top. But every time I tried to jump out in front something seemed to fail to work out, and there I was back plodding along one step at a time. Then I remembered how the hare got lulled by his overconfidence into taking a nap, and the next thing he knew he had lost the race. Which means all along there must have been some divine rein pulling me back, saving me from a similar fate. Then I realized, what if I had missed out on leading others, improving myself, or contributing to a larger cause?
Slow and steady does win the race, you know. So, hang in there! and “. . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”