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She is already a middle-aged lady. She needs some repairs and is no longer like she was when she was young. I have thought about replacing her, but it is no use.  She is an old love.  It was a gift from a close friend, whom I admire so much, Dr. Peter Heslin. He gave it to me years ago when he moved to Sydney, Australia. She has accompanied me all these years since.  My old lawn mower has shown signs of fatigue and seems to insist on asking for retirement. I insist on having her with me, not for economic reasons but above all, out of affection.  I like old friendships. I like to take care of old friendships and invest in new ones. So she has endured all these years as my partner in caring for my lawn.  If we do not take care of our lawn, the city government will, and then sends us the bill. Taking good care of our lawn, then, is almost a civic duty. Sure it’s not easy, but I like doing it, unlike most Americans who pay $25-$30 each time that someone mows their lawn. PersistênciaGratification comes at the end of the task when we smell the sweet scent of nature. It is an enjoyable feeling seeing the lawn well manicured, seemingly thankful on the following days, when it shines a very special green, appearing full of life. To prepare the machines and follow an ordered and organized sequence for this weekend task is a very pleasant ritual for me.  Days ago when I was organizing the machines for my weekend ritual, something broke the harmony of my routine. My old lawn mower had suffered a breakdown, as result of a heavy rain that had fallen the previous days.   Probably the rain had drenched vital engine parts. However great were my efforts, I could not make it run. While I was trying to start my lawn mower, my friend Luciano Silveira arrived, along with my son-in-law, Celidio. We three insisted on cranking her up, without success. Finally, Luciano sentenced the end of my old lawn mower, supported by my son-in-law: “Pastor, this one can go to the junk yard.” Still hopeful to see my old partner back up and running, I decided to store it to try another day. When I was placing it in the storage, I decided to make one last attempt, and to my surprise, it started. I cut my grass, and my old partner seems to have much life left in her. My experience that Saturday morning made me think about how important persistence is. Victory may be only one attempt away.  I wondered how many times we give up when we are so close. I have tried to guide my life using some principles that have helped me many times. I am no expert on the subject, so my perceptions on the matter on not based on scientific foundations, but rather anecdotal evidence.  Maybe, they will work for you, too.

1) Unsuccessful attempts should not be counted as losses.  They need to be seen as steps in the process of achievement.  The great men and women of world history did not become relevant just by being geniuses, but above all, by being persistent. Thomas Alva Edison was an inventor who accumulated 2,332 patents worldwide for his inventions.[1]  He improved and systematized the mass production of many inventions. He was a dogged pursuer of results, and always saw his unsuccessful attempts as steps in the path to achievement.  His personal convictions fed his persistence: “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”[2]  I have always pursued the principle that the last step is the step of conquest, and not the one of giving up. There will always be another attempt until the goal is reached. The last step should never lead us to giving up. The last step must be the step that puts us on the podium.

2) Murmuring and pessimism compromise the spirit of persistence and postpone achievement. That Saturday when the first attempts to make the lawn mower run signaled that she seemed to have come to an end, I began to murmur. Immediately I remembered a message I had received that morning. A good friend asked me to pray for his missionary trip to San Marcos, TX, where 2000 people had lost their homes due to heavy rains during the week. I felt deeply ashamed to be muttering against something so basic. I murmured just because my old lawn mower was not working, while thousands of people not far from me, were suffering the misfortune of having lost their homes. Most often we murmur about something insignificant while people around us face much greater problems.  Paul encourages us to be thankful in all circumstances: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”[3]  To give thanks to God for all is to recognize that God is in control of our lives and that He takes care of us all the time.

3) A pause in our attempts allows our brains to work on alternative and viable solutions. Though I cannot cite scientific study, I believe that when we occupy our minds with other things that are not the focus of the problem that we are experiencing, whether we disconnect, sleep, or rest, our minds are working in the background, a kind of unconscious reflection, seeking solutions to the problem. There have been many times that I have put something that I was working on in standby mode.  When I returned to think about it, clear and simple solutions flowed.  Often I have lain down with what appeared to be an unresolvable situation in my mind, and surprisingly upon waking in the morning, the solution came as clearly as the daylight. I like to think that this is related to the statement of wise King Solomon: ” It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep”[4]. It seems to me that most of the gigantic daily challenges of Solomon’s Kingdom were solved because of this extraordinary ability of our minds to work while we sleep. Of course, besides the “overnight” supernatural care of God with us, we can still rely on this awesome power of our minds, created by God. I have a feeling that when we relax and loosen the pressure on our minds, it begins to form and shape things creatively, bringing simple and functional solutions to our challenges. I wonder how many times in life we give up of things that we were on the verge of conquering. The great inventor Thomas Edison was obsessed with trying again. He said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”[5]  Giving up is the disastrous way to definitively bury our dreams. Persistence is the only way that leads us to reach them. If you have tried many times, try one time more. Maybe this will be the last and decisive step to achieve your dream. Our day-to-day is full of good life lessons.  We only need to be tuned in to see them. There is always an old lawn mower near us, teaching us great lessons. God bless you!

[1] Accessed on July 4th, 2015, https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Edison#Inven.C3.A7.C3.B5es

[2] Thomas Edison, Accessed on July 4th, 2015, http://pensador.uol.com.br/autor/thomas_edison/

[3] Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

[4] King Solomon in Psalm 127: 2 (NKJV)

[5] Accessed on July 4, 2015 (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/90198-our-greatest-weakness-lies-in-giving-up-the-most-certain)