The professional exam lasted the entire day. He had been preparing for it for several months. This included hours of study, answering a few thousand practice questions, and attending a four day seminar in another state at a personal cost of $1,300. The exam was taken on a computer. During the test, a storm moved in, lightning struck and the computers momentarily went out (with his information thankfully backed up). However, some tables they were supposed to be able to consult were unable to be displayed. This person said he kept telling himself through all of these things that he wasn’t going to allow of them to become an excuse. Instead, he was going to be the first person to past the exam despite these things.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Life is rich and complex. The causes for success or failure are many and differ with each situation. Nonetheless, this much can be affirmed with certainty—very few things worth achieving are accomplished without determination. Whether it’s an exam being passed, a house being built, or a degree being earned, there are always obstacles to be overcome, hardships to be endured, and difficult work to be done. None of this happens without determination.
It takes determination to follow Jesus. Christianity is not for cowards. Being a disciple of Jesus is not about retreating from the world, avoiding difficult realities, or shirking responsibility. It is the challenge of living as citizens of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Just look at the metaphors used to describe following Christ: a race, a fight, a war. The pre-eminent symbol Jesus employed in His teaching was carrying a cross—not something for the faint of heart.
Jesus is the ultimate example of determination. When Luke writes about the Transfiguration of Jesus, he tells us that He spoke with Moses and Elijah about His “departure, which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem” (9:31). Both before and after this event, Jesus speaks to His disciples about His death and resurrection (v. 22, 44). Finally we’re told in v. 51 that “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” That’s determination! He knew exactly what awaited Him in Jerusalem, steeled Himself for it, and moved ahead.
In the end, determination is a choice we make. We make the decision to stay the course as Jesus did and allow nothing to deter us. God makes it possible for us to make this choice (Philippians 2:12-13), He blesses us when we do it, but He does not make the choice for us. That is up to us.
Let’s follow Jesus and be resolute!