As a basketball player, Bob Love was a 6-foot-8-inch powerhouse. As a communicator, he was a cipher. A serious stuttering problem made speech next to impossible. In 1968, at 26, he was traded to the Chicago Bulls. He soon proved himself one of the team’s greatest players—its scoring leader for seven seasons. But no matter how well he did on the court, Love felt he would never reach success until he learned to speak better.
At 45, Love saw a speech therapist. For months he forced himself though a 30-hour-a-week regimen of drills and exercises. He went back with the Bulls, a communications representative, addressing kids and adults nationwide. His topic? The power of perseverance.
Bob Love is finishing strong despite setback and failures. He refused to bail out when the going was tough. He knew that life is more like a marathon run, than a hundred meter dash. His life is a stirring testament to those of us who are tempted to give up too soon, throwing in the towel and quitting.
In a speech Bob Love gave to a group of men I heard him say that his desire to go on was like a fire in his belly. Something deep within him that burned that would not allow him to give up, whether on the basketball court or in overcoming his stuttering.
The fire of endurance was planted within Bob Love and us. We can become more powerful than the situation we are facing. Burning within us all is the force we need to keep going. We have to call on it, sometimes reaching down deep to grab hold of the fire in our belly that will not allows us to quit. As long as we keep going the fire remains, but once we give up the fire dies. We, therefore, must refuse to quit. Remember, we may be at the end of our rope, but never are we at the end of hope. We may be knocked down, but never knocked out.
Sometimes we want to give up simply because we have depleted our physical resources. Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Regularly, one of our most productive activities is getting rest and solitude. Nothing replenishes the body and the soul like a day off weekly, an affordable vacation annually. To finish strong we have to take care of ourselves physically.
When we are ready to give up we must draw upon a higher power that is made available to us through worship and meditation. Let’s not treat these resources as a last resort but rather as a first priority. Before we give up, let’s look up to God.
A pastor decided that it was time to retire. He explained his decision to his congregation: I wear two hearing aids and tri-focal glasses; I have a partial plate and I sometimes walk with a cane. It seems to me that the Lord is telling me it’s time to retire.”
After the service, a white-haired lady told him, “Reverend, you have misinterpreted what the Lord has been saying to you. He’s not telling you it’s time to retire; he’s telling you that if you keep going, he’ll keep you patched up.”
So it is. Spiritually we are given the resources that keep us going. Finishing strong requires spiritual stamina.
Strength, also, is found in relationships. The old adage is true: there is strength in numbers. In this case, the number of supportive and loving relationships we have. The tallest trees in the world are the Redwoods. Interestingly, they have a shallow root system. Their strength comes because their roots become intertwined with one another. When we have a strong support group around us to encourage and uplift us we are less likely to give up.
These resources are the ingredients that kept Bob Love going, enabling him to finish strong. They will keep you from quitting. You, too, can finish strong.
Did you know that if we practiced love our relationships would be stronger, our jobs would be more meaningful, our ailments would be fewer? Earlier this year I wrote an encouraging book on love called Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love. The book gets its title from perhaps the greatest statement ever made on love by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. It provides a guide to love, if practiced will make us well and whole. Click here to claim your copy.