Wednesday, December 29, 2010
When Transitions Come
John Adams and Jonathan Sewell stood high above Casco Bay one warm July day in 1774. The two men conversed privately. Sewell begged his friend John Adams, the newly elected Massachusetts delegate to the first Continental Congress, to stay away from the coming session of Congress. He believed Britain remained “irresistible,” and feared that she would destroy all opposition.
Adams agreed, acknowledging British “determination on her system.” However, Adams announced, “swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish,” I am with my country, and “you may depend upon it.”
The year 1775 unfolded slowly. The American colonies endured Bunker Hill. Finally, Sewell returned to England. More importantly, the Colonists watched their Congressional delegate persist with iron determination. As circumstances transitioned, supporters saw him not only persevere but become one of the founding fathers of their fledgling nation.(1)
The Apostle Peter understood the importance of persevering through difficulties and failures. He placed perseverance between self-control and godliness, because he valued it as an essential step upward on his ladder of personal virtues (2 Peter 1:6, NKJV).
Years later, Charles Naylor experienced the critical importance of Peter’s insight as he matured in his own spiritual formation and growth. Naylor was an early holiness evangelist of the Church of God, until an unfortunate accident terminated his travels.
Injured while relocating the tent he used in his traveling ministry, Naylor suffered the devastation that comes with losing one’s ability to maintain a career. No longer able to travel, Naylor found himself in the hell of depression and self-pity; “I am only a has-been.”
“For eight long weary years no ray of hope shone for the future. But I learned to make the best of the present, to turn resolutely away from the past and to cease self-condemnation. After I had learned this lesson God opened the door of opportunity to me again in a most unexpected way. He has given me larger opportunity than every before.”(2)
Through persevering, Naylor found a new venue for ministry through pen preaching, and a new ministry of giving encouragement. Now sharing his experience and wise counsel with people he would never meet, Naylor wrote numerous books and hymns. Among the hymns he left the church is this affirmation of faith I learned to sing as a very young child:
Whether I live or die,
Whether I wake or sleep,
Whether upon the land
Or on the stormy deep;
When ‘Tis serene and calm
Or when the wild winds blow,
I shall not be afraid--
I am the Lord’s, I know.(3)
Christmas 2010 is already gradually transitioning toward Calvary and Easter 2011. As Christmas fades from view and the new year grows into the reality of 2011, C. W. Naylor’s music beckons me to once more persevere and press forward in all circumstances, knowing there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and … to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).
A book I know suggests, Get Ready, God Uses Transitions.(4) It has been a tough time for most folk I know, but “Brother Naylor” knew about those transitions, as did Peter. So did John Adams. So ... with Naylor, I will continue to sing another favorite from Naylor’s pen,
I mean to go right on
Until the crown is won,
I mean to fight the fight of faith
Till life on earth is done,
I’ll never more turn back,
Defeat I shall not know,
For God will give me victory
If onward I shall go. 5
1 David McCullough, John Adams. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), p. 71.
2 Charles W. Naylor, The Secret of the Singing Heart. (Anderson: Warner Press, Inc., 1974), p. 69).
3 C. W. Naylor, “I Am the Lord’s”, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Gospel Trumpet Co., 1939.
4 Wayne M. Warner, Get Ready God Uses Transitions. (Prestonsburg, KY: Reformation Publishers, 2004).
5 Naylor, op cite., p. 358.
From Warner’s World, I am