Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.
DETERMINATION

DETERMINATION

Determination is the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or setting a purpose.   Some of its synonyms are:
         

boldness, constancy, conviction, courage, decision, dedication, doggedness, drive, fortitude, grit,
heart, indomitability, perseverance, persistence, pluck, relentlessness, resolve, single-mindedness, spunk,  tenacity, valor, willpower.

Over the years I have known a lot of people with enormous talent, but they never seem to reach their potential.  By contrast, I have also known, seemingly less talented people, who reach a level of excellence most of us just daydream about.  Every so often, the movie industry will celebrate such characters.  For example, who can forget the movie “Rudy”?
One of my law partners once told me that the world (at least the legal world) can be divided into those who are “good witnesses” and those who are “bad witnesses”.  In this case “good” and “bad” are not defined by moral goodness or badness, but, rather, by whether or not they do are able to communicate whatever they know in a way that the jury will find them believable.
I suppose we can also divide the world into underachievers and overachievers.  Underachievers are those who appear to have unlimited potential but never quite get there; while overachievers are those with one limitation or another, but they never seem to notice.  Instead they are able to reach and even surpass other’s expectations for them.
In the area of athletics, think about all the first round draft picks who never quite lived up to all the hype; but, its not limited to athletics.  In virtually every area of human endeavor, there are many who never achieve the greatest they seemed destined for while so called lesser souls soar to astounding accomplishments.
What character trait or quality of soul do underachievers lack and overachievers have?  In each individual case there may be a number of specific reasons, but generally, it may be this simple but power packed virtue of determination.  Those who succeed where others fail, simply refuse to give up.  I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln who epitomized the proverb, “If at first you do not succeed, then try, try again.”  Don’t we all admire and enjoy hearing stories of people with indominitable spirits who persevere until they accomplish their goals?  Aren’t we inspired by those who overcome the odds to achieve greatness?
I know that we cannot all win all of the time.  In fact, we all know that.  I also know that some of us have more to overcome than others.  Yet no matter where we are, whatever our limitations or the obstacles we face, we will be much better off if we face them with a little more conviction, grit, perseverance, resolve and valor.  Sometimes we just need a touch more “elbow grease” to get the job done.
Each of us has something or somethings that nag at us deep in our souls.  At times consciously and at other times unconsciously, unspoken thoughts reverberate around our minds like sounds in a never ending echo chamber, reminding us that we can do better — we want to do better; but we never seem to quite get there, do we?  Certainly there are some problems we can’t fix on our own.  We do need others to help us at times; and, we desperately need grace, truth and supernatural power which are always available if we ask.  Nevertheless, I wonder if the key to unlocking that mysterious door, that we never seem to pass through, lies in our own blood, sweat and tears?  
What would our lives, not our imaginary lives, but our real lives, look like if we lived them with more courage, drive, heart and spunk.  What would happen if we dedicate ourselves to live like we want to live with single minded purpose and with indomitable will power.  Suppose we decide today to kick mediocrity and excuse aside and determine that we will keep on kicking until they never rise again?  
If we don’t, who will?  We know what our lives are like today, why not take a chance and try something a little bit different?
We talk a lot about free will, but not that much about what will really is.  We have been given free will but we have also been give the power to choose over and over again.  There is real power in the choices we make.  There is power in our wills; power to live for good or evil; power to overcome a lesser life for a better life; the power to live godly lives; the power to live the life God has called each of us to live.  We may be living life at a lower level than we want, but we don’t have to, do we?
We all have a part to play in this, but it is not all up to us.  With this in mind,  Jesus told a parable so that we might understand that we must pray and not lose heart.  He said:
             In a certain city there was a judge who feared neither God nor man; and there was a 
             widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my 
             adversary.’  For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I 
             neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate 
             her, or she will wear me out by her coming.’

Afterward Jesus said “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?   Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.  Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  (Luke 18:1-8)

What words can we use to describe this widow?  Bold?  Dogged? Indomitable?  Persistent? Relentless? Tenacious?  

Is it any wonder she got what she asked for?  Is it any wonder we don’t get what we ask for?  Wouldn’t it be nice if someone told a story about us that used these words to describe our efforts?

Where is our faith?  Will he find faith on earth?
Teresa of Avila has written that we need determination to make real progress in our spiritual lives.  (Way of Perfection, see chapter 23)  She also suggested that if we lack determination, we should not despair because if we ask for what we lack the good God will give it to us in full measure.  James writes that we have not because we don’t ask. (See James chapter 1) 
What are we doing?  We can stay where we are if we want to, but if we do, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves.  Instead, let’s resolve today with determination to change, to repent and believe the good news.  (See Gospel of Mark 1:14-15)
   

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