In the Arena



“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 and comes up short again and again…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 he fails while daring greatly…”

 Theodore Roosevelt     1910

When Jesus stood on a mountain in Galilee and challenged 11 men to make disciples of all nations I think he was “daring greatly.” Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David and the whole cloud of witnesses from the past also knew about risking all for a greater cause. Daring greatly could be spelt, R.I.S.K, or to use the terminology of the book of Hebrews, F.A.I.T.H. Without “daring greatly” it is impossible to please God.

In these difficult times, many questions may invade our minds as  we look to do something with our lives in this world.

“How much money is behind me?”

 “What will others think of this?”

“Am I getting too old for all this?”

“Is my pension safe?

“What’s on telly tonight?”


Perhaps we need to put such questions aside for a moment and focus on the one question that matters.

 “What am I daring greatly for?”

 I’m sure that we can all look back on our various histories and bask in the fading light of past pioneer exploits. We may remember our hearts that were once burning with the passion of a first love. We may also know of folks who are still living on the frontline of prayer, vision and action. I remember driving around Paris on a busy day trying to find a place to park. Finally a space emerged and I pulled into it. I was overjoyed to find that the previous occupant had invested with generosity and that there was still an hour to go on the parking metre! Someone else was paying for my quick nip around the Eiffel Tower!

I think this might be a metaphor for our present life in this generation. We may still be living on the prayers and purpose of a previous generation. We may have found a free space but time is running out! Unless a new generation rises to the challenge of “daring greatly”, and puts the pennies of prayer and passion into the metre, we fill have to move on…or get a ticket!

In life it is not “dogged that does it” in the last resort, and it is not hard work; it is faculty, insight, gift, talent, genius. And what genius does in the natural world prayer does in the spiritual. Nothing can give us so much power and vision…Prayer is for the religious life what original research is for science – by it we get direct contact with reality.

May we find a renewed engagement in the arena of prayer and action.






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