One hundred plus two boarded the tiny ship bound for prosperity and adventure. They bundled their dreams among meager worldly possessions and said their prayers. In its treacherous 66 day voyage over rough, storm riddled seas, the crude vessel and those aboard were blown more than 500 miles off course. Only half who braved the trip would live to see a year beyond their departure of Sept. 16, 1620. But those who did survive the Mayflower journey were America's first settlers who, while yet aboard the ship, formulated and signed an agreement establishing constitutional law and the rule of the majority. Their pilgrimage of courage and commitment helped forge a new nation.
On Sept. 16 in 1893, the largest land run in history began with more than 100,000 people pouring into Oklahoma to stake their claims. A single pistol shot kick-started the mad dash of land-hungry pioneers on horseback and in carriages who raced forward to snatch the best acres. Their willingness to risk the dangers in a new and rugged country were due more to personal gain than national duty, but the grit it took still merits wonder for those who raced that day.
Instead of a fight for land, the fight for bragging rights landed Thomas Hearns, the World Boxing Association (WBA) belt winner, face down in the ring. His welterweight opponent, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, World Boxing Council’s (WBC) welterweight champion, came from behind to win the battle in front of 25,000 spectators on Sept. 16, 1981. These two fighters punched their way to glory – for what? National pride, personal gain or ticket sales for the boxing leagues? Still, those were a couple of tough contenders that wowed the crowd.
The motivation behind any courageous undertaking must be weighed heavily. Is it noble or greedy? Is the drive pushed by vision or vanity? Each of these historical moments happened on Sept. 16. There is nothing significant about the date. No time off for government employees or holidays from school. It's just another day, like this Friday, Sept. 16 will be.
But look again. Brave souls risked all they had to find a free place to worship and prosper. Families desperate to pursue the American dream dashed daringly across Oklahoma hills at break-neck speed. And two men of small stature scrapped and bum rushed one another to become the big dog in a brutal battle ring. All on the 16th.
What are you doing this Friday?
I dare you to do something that impacts this nation for good. Begin a journey where you seek to worship in spirit and in truth. Share your faith with others. Serve in the church. Live like you only have one year to make a difference!
“...live a life worthy of the Lord and...please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might...” (Colossians 1:10-11a)
I dare you to go after a dream. Accomplish something you've long pondered and have never been given permission to pursue. Run for the goal. Race for the finish line. Seize the day with anticipation and enthusiasm, grit and nerve. You just might find you have what it takes.
“...so that you may have great endurance and patience and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Col. 1:11b-12)
I dare you to fight the good fight. Not for vain glory, but to honor God. Fight to the finish. Fight for what's right. Fight for freedom in Christ so that you can say with the Apostle Paul:
“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24)
Just think, something you do this Friday could go down in history. Will it go down as noble national pride, selfish personal gain or simple crowd pleasing fame? It's up to you how you live this Friday.
I dare you to live it for Christ!