Booker T. Washington was an educator, reformer and the most influential black leader of his time [1856-1915]. Born into slavery, the son of an unknown white man, his early life was demanding, but Booker had an insatiable thirst for learning, and longed for a university education. When he was 18 he heard of a college that accepted black students and walked 500 miles to apply for a place. When he arrived the college was full. However, he pleaded so hard that they gave him work as a janitor [caretaker] until, eventually, he was accepted as a student. He proved to be such an able scholar and so hardworking that ultimately he was awarded a scholarship. Recently I read a story of how, looking for a way to do something, he carried out more than seven hundred experiments, which all failed. He is quoted as saying cheerfully, “Now we know 700 ways not to do it!” But he carried on until he found the right way. Booker Washington’s tenacity was legendary; he never gave up, never took “No!” for an answer. He accomplished amazing things, one step at a time.
Have you ever felt like giving up? Sometimes life can seem overwhelming, and the things expected of us way beyond our scope. Then there are the times when Yahweh seems to be requiring more from us, generating a sense of panic or even dismay. When we have tried and failed we often want to simply crawl away and hide. Life, in both the natural and the spiritual, experiences joys and sorrows, blessings and disappointments, triumphs and defeats in indiscriminate succession. It’s not so much success that counts with Yahweh, but faithfulness. We learn through failure. Booker failed more than 700 times at the same thing, but he kept trying.
Around the world doctors and nurses, carers and keyworkers, governments and leaders are bravely facing unprecedented challenges of immense proportions, overcoming one day at a time. In the personal world of family and friends we, too, face extraordinary circumstances. Let’s hold steady, not giving up, but seeking to learn whatever precious lessons our beloved Father wants to teach us.