I recall hearing a story years ago that made a big impression. I don’t remember the name of the author or the name of the man in the story, so I will tell the story as I remember it.
There was a certain young man whose name was Michael. When but a young man of fourteen years of age, he was overcome by a blizzard in Michigan. Before his parents discovered him, he was frostbitten so badly that he had to undergo amputation of his limbs. His right leg was cut off almost to his hip; his left leg above the knee; his right arm was amputated as well as his left hand.
Can you guess the consequences? He went to the Board of County Commissioners and asked for a loan to educate himself, with the promise that he would pay back every cent he borrowed. This he did in a few short years. During World War I, Michael became president of one of the largest banks in St. Paul, but he left his position and went to Europe to help build up the soldiers’ morale.
Upon one occasion in London, he lectured to wounded, discouraged soldiers, who were brought to the hotel in wheelchairs. They were placed in the lobby, and Michael stood on the upper floor.
As he began to speak, he surprised the disheartened men by minimizing their wounded condition, showing no sympathy for their loss of an eye, an arm, or a leg. Michael refused to listen to their complaints. His apparently unsympathetic nature angered the wounded men so much that they began to jeer at him as he continued speaking. Then Michael began walking down the steps, still reminding them how fortunate they were. They became furious as he commented further. Finally he sat down and removed his right leg. This surprised the men and reduced their anger somewhat, but still they resented his suggestion that they were well off. When he took off his left leg, there was instantaneous silence. Before he arrived at the bottom of the steps, he removed his right arm, and a left hand. There he sat just a stump of a body.
Did his losses thwart his usefulness? No, indeed. Besides being bank president, he was the father of five children. His faith in himself which was founded and bolstered by his faith in God, showed others, whether physically wounded or mentally challenged, how to triumph over obstacles. He proved his determination to do his best in spite of severe handicap.
Do we complain over a bruise or a scratch and use them as excuses to avoid responsibility? Do we excuse ourselves from being the best kind of us by dwelling on self-pity for real or imaginary wounds? Do we withdraw in discouragement and give up when things just seem too great an obstacle?
How determined am I? How determined are you? What’s my excuse for lack of initiative, lack of accomplishment, lack of contentment and happiness? What’s your excuse?
I don’t know why they say “never give UP”. Up is a great word. It brings to mind progress and improvement. Why don’t they say, “Never give down!”