A number of years ago I read a book entitled “Do Hard Things”. The authors at the time were 19-year-old twin brothers Alex and Brett Harris. The book was written to encourage teens not to accept the low expectations that the world has for teenagers. I haven’t forgotten the challenge of that book, even though it has been a number of years since I read it. I believe that the idea of doing hard things has significant biblical support. There were five challenges in the book – 1) do things that take you outside of your comfort zone (taking a risk to grow and trust in the Lord) 2) do things that go beyond what’s expected or required (pursuing excellence). I especially think this is a very relevant point in our day and age today as so many have accepted the idea of just getting by (this is seen in every part of our world). 3) do things that are too big to accomplish alone (the idea of dreaming and daring to undertake big projects) 4) do things that don’t earn immediate payoff, this is a challenge to a lot of people who have been programmed to think that we live just for the here and now. That’s why choosing integrity and being faithful is such a great need today. 5) do things that go against the cultural norm in taking a stand for what is right.
I was thinking of these concepts as we prepared for the closing of our Olympian Wednesday evening. We closed our year with our annual Pinewood Derby (one of the things we missed from last year). When we started with live meetings back in September none of us could have imagined the obstacles and challenges that lie ahead in the coming year. We were excited to be back in the building and to be interacting with the kids for song time, teaching and discipleship. But it wasn’t long before the Covid numbers rose, and it became obvious that we needed to move to a zoom format for our Olympian program. Throughout the year we have met with many unexpected challenges for the Olympian staff and families involved. Recently one of our staff members had her father pass away. On Wednesday, March 2nd two of our staff members were scheduled for surgery (I had left knee replacement surgery that day). A third staff member was scheduled for surgery, only to show up on the day of the scheduled surgery and find out he had three blood clots in his right leg. Though Mr. Wayne is unable to return to church he has stayed connected and continued to teach through the zoom ministry avenue. Another staff member was diagnosed with Covid. Some of our families also receive distressing news about loved ones and friends throughout the year. Yet here we are concluding the year because of the faithfulness of God’s servants and the families that have continued to support the program.
In 2 Chronicles 34:1 – 3 the writer records the very amazing beginning of the reign of King Josiah. We read, “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem 31 years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In the 12th year, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images,” (NIV). Three dates are mentioned in these very short verses. First King Josiah started to reign as king when he was eight years old. Eight years later, at the age of 16, King Josiah began to diligently seek God of his father David. Then 12 years after he began to reign at the age of 20, he began to lead a spiritual revival in striking at the very heart of the idolatry in the nation. Talk about doing hard things.
How could this child be used by God in such a powerful way at such a young age? There certainly was some biblical training that took place, but I also think it was so important that the people that Josiah had around him were godly people. Josiah certainly was one who set out to accomplish great things and I’m sure he was not alone. In Proverbs 15:22 we read, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed”, (NIV). In taking on the idols of his culture at the age of 20 Josiah was going against the cultural norms of the day and making the most of every opportunity that God set before him. This past year has been a tremendously difficult ministry year for all those who have been actively involved in leading New Durham Chapel through this very challenging time. We have not been alone, as the Lord Himself has sustained us and we have tried to mutually encourage and minister to one another. I believe one of the great challenges from Josiah’s life is that we make the most of the opportunities that God has set before us. Remembering Jesus’s words in John 9, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world”, (John 9:4, 5 NIV). While we have the daylight let us make sure that we are doing everything we can to share the light of the Lord Jesus Christ on those around us who are in great darkness.
All for Christ,
Pastor Rich Sivo