Keep on Keepin’ On.

A couple of well-known reminders for you today:

Joshua 1:9 “… I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage!” (Eugene Peterson’s Message translation)

So also, Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Friends, keep going. It matters. It’s making a difference. God rejoices over you.

The 2014 documentary, Keep on Keepin’ On tells the story of legendary jazz musician Clark Terry – who taught the likes of Quincy Jones and Miles Davis – and his friendship with a blind 23-year-old pianist who suffers from crippling stage fright. Terry, too, as he ages, is losing his sight and encountering debilitating health challenges. They inspire each other in poignant, powerful ways. Both of them have numerous reasons to hang it up, to move on to other things, to take the easier way out. They don’t.

Improvisation, perseverance, together.

“Keep on Keepin’ on.”

The origins of the phrase are unclear. Some references suggest it’s nearly a century old, but it certainly became more mainstream via its use by Martin Luther King Jr as well as a slew of musicians in the second half of the 20th century (It gained wide popularity in 1971 as the title of a Curtis Mayfield track.) In King’s words, “You don’t get to the Promised Land without going through the Wilderness. You don’t get there without crossing over hills and mountains, but if you keep on keeping on, you can’t help but reach it.” (1956, Fisk University in Montgomery.)

You can’t help but reach it.

Keep on Keepin’ on.

Another music reference. I was recently reminded of this phrase and its theme while reading an entry from Nick Cave’s must-read blog, The Red Hand Files. With words that could just as easily be applied to pastors and other ministry leaders:

“If we are to call ourselves artists then we must avoid the myriad excuses that present themselves and do our job. Yes, the world is sick, and yes it can be cruel, but it would be a whole lot sicker and a whole lot crueler if it were not for painters and filmmakers and songwriters – the beauty-makers – wading through the blood and muck of things, whilst reaching skyward to draw down the very heavens themselves. These are perilous and urgent times. …It’s time to get to work, to reach up and tear the divine idea from its heavenly cradle and proffer it to the world. Create! Create! Create like your life depends on it, because, of course, of course, it does!”

The beauty makers.

Keep on keepin’ on.

Ministry is incredibly – and increasingly – complex. Let’s name this and own it. AND let’s keep going. There’s too much at stake, and your calling to ministry matters. It’s having a ripple effect that will extend beyond what you assume or imagine. You’re planting seeds for trees that will shade generations well after yours.  Friends, keep on keepin’ on. The Lord is with you. And so are we.

We’d love to hear about what the Spirit is up to in your life and ministry.

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