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Keep On Keeping On

Category Articles
Date June 3, 2003

The biblical command to persevere is one that we all continually need. It is a call to faithfulness, and yet it is also an affirmation that somehow, in spite of our failures, God will bring His committed people through the difficulties and concerns of life to their promised destiny in Christ

by David Cassells

A considerable part of a missionary representative’s work involves simply going from A to B. Air, sea, rail or road, the main issue is the same: getting there. Long journeys often involve travelling over 300 miles in one day. The means of occupying the travel time varies. On a train the journey can be put to good use in preparing, or catching up on reading a few chapters of a book that has lain on the bookshelf awaiting such an opportunity. Driving a car allows no such luxury! The mountainous areas of Scotland, so beautiful to look at nevertheless devastate radio signals; even Classic FM has to be foregone. But then again, there is always the tape deck, and how thankful I am for it! It provides a tremendous chance to benefit from the ministry of other preachers.

I once slotted such a sermon into the tape deck. It was by Rev Eric Alexander. His superbly relevant expository preaching, delivered in those enviable mellow resonant tones of his, is always a joy to listen to. An illustration used by him in that message has stuck with me ever since, and I have used it from time to time in my own preaching. It involved the first occasion that he, as a young preacher, met the late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Having been to hear ‘the Doctor’ at Westminster Chapel he was privileged to be invited to meet with him after the service. While waiting in the corridor behind the pulpit to be introduced, Eric watched on as Lloyd-Jones chatted with the many wanting to speak to him. One after another departed and, as they did, ‘the Doctor’ bade farewell to each of them, and on every occasion added these words, ‘Keep on going on’. Intrigued with this salutation, when his meeting with Dr Lloyd-Jones took place he took the time to ask him why, on parting company with everyone, he used these words, ‘Keep on going on’. "After a few moments of reflection," Eric recorded, "Dr Lloyd-Jones replied, ‘Because there’s no alternative."’ How typically Lloyd-Jones, and how apt!

One Saturday evening, I was going to a meeting in central Scotland. Within a few miles of the venue the traffic ground to almost a standstill. Creeping along at a couple of miles per hour the time for the start of the meeting came – and went. Roadworks had created the congestion and then a long detour was required. What should I do? The meeting would be a good way through; should I just head home again and telephone my apologies later? Then these words sprang to mind, ‘Keep on going on!’ Despite having left home in plenty of time to be early for the meeting now, over 40 minutes late, I eventually arrived – just as the chairman had given up hope of my arrival and was about to bring ‘a few thoughts’. The biblical command to persevere is one that we all continually need. It is a call to faithfulness, and yet it is also an affirmation that somehow, in spite of our failures, God will bring His committed people through the difficulties and concerns of life to their promised destiny in Christ. It takes human weakness seriously, without denying the mysterious nature of God’s patience with His people. As Christians we believe we will finish the race because we focus our attention on Jesus, the lead runner and model finisher of our faith. So, whatever duty we meet in God’s service – prayer, good works or just getting to a meeting – the injunction is a good one, isn’t it? ‘Keep on going on.’

David Cassells

VISION OF EUROPE, European Missionary Fellowship, 6 Codicote Road, Welwyn, AL6 9NB

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