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Never give up, and God will be with you
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We find ourselves in the midst of the dog days of summer. My first boss used to point at the haze over the horizon on days like this and say, “You know what that is, boys? That’s laziness between us and the job.” And you know what? I believed him.

My first boss was a contractor. We built a few homes during the three summers I worked for him, but our main job those years was building chicken houses. And the “highlight” of those summers always was the day that we would put the tin roofs on those chicken houses. You have not lived until you have endured the 90-foot length of a chicken house, alternately nailing on the tin roof and hitting your own thumb with a hammer. And that was easy to do. You see, the nails had an oil sheen on them and would easily slip just as you struck them. That caused the hammer to come down hard on the part of the hand that distinguishes us from many animals, the opposable thumb.

I can still remember my first day doing that job. The first time I hit my thumb, I screamed. By the time we reached the end of the second side, I merely would whimper. And almost every time I would hear Mr. Cash say, “You’re hitting the wrong nail, Bradley.” It was all I could do not to throw down the hammer and quit. Even harder was not crying.

I survived those days in construction, and I am a better man for it. I learned the value of hard work and many skills I use today as a homeowner. I learned anew the value of teamwork. I learned how to cooperate with others. And I learned how good it feels to see the finished work of your hands.

There are times I miss those days. Mind you, I do not want to hit my thumb with the hammer again. But it was fun to look at the finished product and see that you had done your job well. In my current work as a pastor, I don’t always get to see that. You see, we are all unfinished. We are all striving, but none of us has reached the goal yet. That is why Paul said, “Not that I have attained it yet … but I press on.”

That’s what life is all about: pressing on. As Winston Churchill once said to a group of graduating seniors, “Never give up. Never give up. Never ever give up.” In many ways, that is God’s call to each of us. Keep going. Never give up. Press on toward the goal.

God will be with you as you go. Trust him with all of your being.

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