Five hundred years ago sailors feared the horizon, believing if you sailed too far you could fall off the edge of the world. The sailors of that day erected a monument at the Strait of Gibraltar bearing the Latin inscription Ne plus ultra, which means ‘No more beyond’.
After the successful voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492, Spain cast new coins bearing the inscription, Plus ultra, which means,‘More beyond’.
It is here that we should ask a few questions:
- Have we limited ourselves in our thinking?
- Without voicing it, do we live lives limited by boundaries that we have set for ourselves?
- Are these the same boundaries God has set for us?
- Do we have a secret list of goals we desired to accomplish but never attempted, possibly because we were convinced we were not capable?
- Do we regret wasting seasons of life on what seemed to some as foolish notions and pursuits, or do we wish we had pursued even more?
- Do we feel like our best years have now passed and it’s too late to make a difference?
Doubt can shackle us and cripple our faith. The Apostle Paul had much to teach us about persistence. He was abandoned by many as they chose to return to their own selfish pursuits, yet he did not quit. In Phil. 3:12-14, he writes,
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (called him to do) Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
When we attempt something and we fail, does that automatically mean that it wasn’t meant to be? Does a one-time or a two-time failure mean that our efforts are futile?
- Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting out of 900 during his lifetime, but he kept painting.
- As a sophomore, Michael Jordan failed to make his high school’s varsity basketball team.
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from Baltimore’s WJZ-TV for being too “emotionally involved” with the stories she reported.
- Thomas Edison failed an estimated 10,000 times to create a working light bulb. After over 9,000 failures, he was asked if he was about ready to give up. His answer was, “Why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know over 9,000 ways an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”
Do we tend to stop just short of success? Faithfully following Jesus was never meant to be easy, but He always honors tenacity and consistency.
Have you surrendered to the limitations that you have placed on your life and future? In other words, have you resigned to go this far and no further regardless of what God has meant for you to be or do? If so, what have you done with Phil. 3:13-14? “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
You see, Andrew Murray put it this way. He said, “God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.” What a comfort that is! In 2 Cor 5:9-10, Paul says, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” Paul had come to understand completely that pleasing his Master was the most important of all his accomplishments. He recognized his position in Christ, and that was being His “bond servant.” (Romans 1:1)
There comes a time in our lives when we too must decide who we are and who we will be. Otherwise, we will fail to please the One who should matter most of all; the One that set us free to be His servant.