Paul the Apostle wrote, "For...the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."1
"Down the streets of Portsmouth more than two hundred years ago," said Lt. General Ira C. Eaker in a speech given some time ago, "walked a sailor with one arm, one eye, and a persistent state of nerves and unable to tread a ship's deck without being seasick. Indeed he would probably have been in a home for incurables were his name not Admiral Lord Nelson. The man's spirit drove the flesh."
Born in 1758, Horatio Nelson, the son of a pastor, was a small, frail child who loved sailing. As a young teenager he joined the British navy and, while journeying to the East Indies, caught a fever that seriously damaged his health. But he never allowed this to hold him back. At age 18 he was appointed a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and by the year 1802 was made commander-in-chief of the British fleet.
Two years later, at the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets. This was the greatest naval victory in British history and left the British in control of the seas for the rest of the 1800s. Unfortunately, Nelson was mortally wounded during Trafalgar but lived long enough to know that his fleet had won the battle. His last words were, "Thank God I have done my duty."
Nelson was a man of fearless courage and devotion. He believed in his country, in his cause, and in himself. He proved this with his words and more so with his life. He once said, "I am of the opinion that the boldest measures are the safest." Nelson was a man greatly admired by others who said about him, "His frail body housed a great spirit."
John Stuart Mill would agree. He said, "One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who only have interest."2
No matter what your limitations or your handicaps are, God has a plan and purpose for your life. Believe it and you will receive it. Act on it and you will achieve it and like the Apostle Paul you, too, will be able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to so believe and live that when I come to the end of life's journey, I too will be able to say, 'Thank God that I have done my duty.' Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NIV).
2. Adapted from "The Power of Belief" by Dick Innes at http://tinyurl.com/79peh.
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