My grandfather, whom I worshipped as a kid, once called me out during a tobacco cutting lesson. After mutilating a small patch of tobacco, I was ready to quit, but my grandfather said “You give up too easy.”
I had no choice. How could I give up while my grandfather was watching? I pushed through my lesson and cut tobacco until sunset. I’m sure there have been better tobacco cutters, but I doubt any of them have been as deeply impacted as I was that day.
My first take-away was that I absolutely did not want to be a tobacco farmer. It’s just as well since, now, I would not want to contribute to the harmful effects of smoking. And I really don’t think I would have been a good farmer.
But the most profound gift my grandfather gave me that day were the words, “You give up too easy.” I have tried to prove him wrong ever since.
Last night I turned on a local sports station in my car to catch the New Orleans Saints football game from the Mercedes Benz Superdome. My timing was perfect! In the next play, Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s passing record to become the all-time passing record holder in the history of the NFL. Later, I watched the play online and was touched by the celebration of the fans, the players from both sides and Peyton’s family.
I’m sure I am not the only one who reflected.
On the horrific conditions in the Superdome in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As a “shelter of last resort” the population in the dome swelled to nearly 20,000, gang fights broke out, innocent people were attacked and a National Guardsman was shot.
The Saints were already considering a move to another city and that year they ended the season with a record of 3-13.
To say this period in the history of the City of New Orleans and the Saints franchise was a “low point” is an understatement.
It was the lowest of the low.
Meanwhile, Drew Brees was trying to rebuild his career following shoulder surgery when the Saints picked him up as a free agent, uncertain of his future. The future turned out to be much better than anticipated as Drew led his team to a Super Bowl victory in 2009.
But, then came “Bountygate” when it was discovered Saints players were being paid to injure opponents.
Some said, “Now, it’s over.”
Over for the Saints.
Over for Drew.
Fast forward to that wonderful touchdown play last night when Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s record, the crowd cheered, and Drew hugged his kids and his tearful wife.
Last night was proof my grandfather had something very right.
The difference between those who live to see better times and those who don’t is relatively simple: the former group refuses to give up.
One of my favorite gospel songs is “Hold On”, in all its variations. I think it must come from Jesus who said we shouldn’t look back once we take hold of the plow (Luke 9:62).
I’m not for raising tobacco, but it is ironic that perhaps the best lesson I ever learned came when I was surrounded by seven-foot burley plants.
If the hand you have on the plow is starting to slip and you’re thinking of giving up, permit me to say…
“You give up to easy.”
You’ll never see a better day if you give up now.
Just a little bit longer.