Asbury United Methodist Church
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May 2, 2017

I think today would be a good day to chat about overcoming.

            And, who better to lead the charge than Helen Keller? Keller said, “The world is full of suffering. It is also full of the overcoming of it!”

            Next, there is Jesus. Jesus was, is and will be the king of overcoming! Jesus said, “Take heart, I have overcome the world (John 16:33)!”

            Helen Keller was born deaf, blind and mute! Even so, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, to lecture worldwide, author books and later be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

            Keller also met every president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson.   I’d say she did a pretty good job of overcoming.

  Jesus was a man born in poverty, labored as a blue collar worker, was murdered on a cross but later rose from the grave! That’s a fairly blatant example of overcoming as well!

  What history tells us about both Helen Keller and Christ our Lord is that nothing could keep them from seeing God and the presence of God’s grace everywhere.   (Note Keller’s book, Light My Darkness.)

            Now back to overcoming, no one or no thing can steal our power to see grace if seeing grace is our decision. Seeing grace may even be a final decision, but it is ours nonetheless.

            And, this brings me to Russian novelist and essayist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  He seemed to feel this way too!

            The former Soviet Union appeared to do everything in its power to shut him up including handing him a lengthy stay in the Gulag.  Even this would not stop him from overcoming and continuing to speak out.

            Incidentally, after only one year of marriage Solzhenitsyn’s wife was forced to divorce him in order to retain her permits to work and have housing.  They remarried in 1957 after he was released.

            Later on, regarding Communism Solzhenitsyn would write, “But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

           (Ericson, Edward E. Jr. (October 1985) “Solzhenitsyn – Voice from the Gulag,” Eternity, pp. 23–24.)

  Are his words haunting or what?

            Jesus weighs in heavily on this matter, “But seek his kingdom and all these things will be given to you as well Luke 12:31).”

  It seems to me the only thing truly worth seeking in this life is the Kingdom of God and ironically, it’s the only thing of permanence and value.  And, just when we thought things could not possibly get any better, God tosses in the icing on the cake…abundant living!

  King Solomon’s first day on the job required that he overcome a challenge by his half-brother Adonijah (1 Kings 1:49-53). Solomon was later awarded a huge windfall because he chose to seek God’s kingdom first (1 Kings 3:5-12).

  Earlier we began talking about overcoming. Overcoming is a decision.

  I am guessing that none of us have a Gulag facing us today.  Anything less is probably doable!  So, what might we have planned to do today?

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