Select Page

Hey, this is John Ortberg, and I want to give a word to you that today I belong to hear, and that is what you do matters immensely. It has more meaning than you have any idea. It is hidden in the spiritual reality of the kingdom of God. So don’t give up. I believe one of the greatest lies that can come into a human life is the notion that what you do doesn’t really matter. And it does. So don’t give up. My dad had an old book called a hundred, one best love poems. And one of them written in kind of a Western folksy dialect just went, keep it going. When you strike a thorn arose, keep it going. If it hails or it snows, keep it going. If a fish ain’t on the line, ain’t no good to sit in wine, bait your hook. Keep on trying, keep it going. When it looks like all is up. Keep it going. Drain the sweetness from the cup. Keep it going. See the wild birds on the wing. Here are the bells that sweetly ring. There’s another line rhymes with ding. Keep it going. uh, uh, gosh, what is that other line? You can tell that this is a, uh, finally tuned production here. Um, oh yeah. When you feel like saying sing, when you feel like saying sing, keep it going

Now, why do we find it hard to persevere? I believe it’s because of this notion, this illusion that it really doesn’t. Sometimes we’ll say to ourselves about things that deeply bother us. Uh, it’s not life or death, but the reality is life or death is not life or death. And ironically, the small moments, the acts of love, kindness, generosity, attempts to grow, to bring joy to other people actually matter far, far more. So now I want to go to screw tape letters, passage to wisdom today. Uh, screw tape is writing to wormwood because the human being wormwood patient is in the middle of the second world war. And there’s lots of suffering and death going on in wormwood. The junior, attempt’s all excited, but screw tape recognizes. There’s something way more important than physical life or death. And so here’s what he writes to wormwood.

There’s a crying example of something I’ve already complained about your readiness to forget the main point in your immediate enjoyment of human suffering. Do you not know that bombs kill men or do you not realize that the patient’s death at this moment is precisely what we want to avoid? He has escaped the worldly friends with whom you tried to entangle him. He has fallen in love with a very Christian woman and is temporarily immune from your attacks on his chastity. The various methods of corrupting his spiritual life, which we have been trying are so far unsuccessful at the present moment as the full impact of the war draws nearer and his worldly hopes take a proportionately lower place in his mind, forced to attend to his neighbors more than he has ever done before. Liking it more than he expected taking out of himself. As the humans say and daily increasing in conscious dependence on the enemy, God, he will almost certainly be lost to us if he is killed tonight.

This is so obvious. I am ashamed to write it. I sometimes wonder if you, young FES are not kept out on temptation duty too long at a time. If you are not in some danger of becoming infected by the sentiments and values of the humans among whom you work, they of course do regard, do tend to regard death as the prime, evil and survival as the greatest good. But that is because we have taught them to do so. Do not let us be infected by our own propaganda. A quick word here. Periodically people will come up with some grand scheme in an attempt to explain everything in very simple categories. And in our day evolution, when it’s extended beyond an approach to biology, as a way of trying to supplant value, religion, ethics, views everything in terms of survival and death, life or death.

And you can use that to try to explain everything because life and death are pretty big categories, but they’re not ultimate a hundred years ago or so behaviorism with BF Skinner also claimed to explain everything about human life. And it used two quite simple categories, pleasure and pain utilitarianism, basically based on the same thing you can do that if you want to cuz pleasure and pain are pretty big, but they’re what is ultimate is not surviving and it’s not experiencing pleasure. It’s who I become. It is the pursuit of good and the danger of evil and to persevere in this together with God always matter what you do today matters so much. This is why screw tape goes on. Uh, if the human being can only be kept alive, if he dies, he will be with God forever. He’ll be lost for us. But if he can be kept alive, you have time itself for your ally. The long dull monotonous years of middle aged prosperity are middle aged adversity or excellent campaigning weather. You see it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. It is so hard to persevere the routine of adversity. The gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes.

The quiet despair hardly ever felt. This pain of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again, defeated them the drabness with which, uh, the drabness, which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it. All this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition do not let your soul be worn out by attrition. Keep it going. If on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous. Our position is even stronger, prosperity, knits, a person to the world. They find they are finding their place in it while really it is finding its place in them. They’re increasing reputation, widening circle of acquaintances, sense of importance. The growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work build up in them. A sense of being really at home in earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle aged and the old. Now here’s the great truth. The truth is that the enemy having oddly destined these mere animals to life in his own eternal world has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home. Anywhere else,

If you are not yet home, keep it going. The day will come. Perseverance is a necessary part of the formation of character. Not because we glorify perseverance. Some sometimes in our day, grit has become, uh, elevated as a virtue primarily because we’re so achievement oriented and we’ll think about grit is what enables us to achieve perseverance in the wrong cause can do more damage than good. I think of one leader I know who would talk a lot about the virtue of perseverance and quote Bible versus about them, but kind of underneath it all was this sense of ego I will out will you, I will outweigh you and perseverance. That is not surrendered. Perseverance can do a lot of damage, but we’re called to hang on and to hold on in surrendered submitted hope so today for you to seek, to love God for you to, to bring joy to other people for you and I to serve, to be fully alive, to be fully awake, to be grateful for the world around us, to pray to God without ceasing matters more than you. And I can see today. If you strike a thorn, a rose, keep it going. I’ll see you next time.