In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech “The Man In the Arena,” best known for it’s most widely quoted segments. I love every word of this amazing, gutsy exclamation:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
We live in a world bent on fitting in with the crowd. This may be a symptom of social media exposure, where our every word is critiqued instantly by a great crowd of group thinkers who invariably insist that we stay at the shallow end of the pool and not make waves. It’s the lowest common denominator of human experience: play it safe.
A survey was taken of people over 90 years of age. They were asked the question: “If you had life to live over again, what would you do differently?” The three top answers were as follows: (1) I would take more risks (2) I would reflect more and (3) I would have given myself to something that will outlive me. Good advice!
Those “timid souls who neither know victory or defeat” are bland company precisely because they never took the risk and strived valiantly for fear of falling on their face. Facing our fears—conquering them—happens when we step out in faith and take action, spending ourselves on a worthy cause—something that will outlive us! And what about taking time to reflect? Isn’t this the springboard from which all valiant living emerges?
Our prayers should be like that. The Apostle Paul wrote “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principaliities and powers–spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Prayer is a spiritual wrestling match with an invisible force bent on squeezing us into the mold of compliance to a wicked world system driven by the father of lies. Our lives should be a reflection of our prayers. The late Keith Green wrote and sang: “Make my life a prayer to You…”