When I was little I tried all kinds of things.
I would see someone else doing something, and I would tell myself that I wanted to do that too.
I would watch someone playing a musical instrument, and I'd want to learn how to play that thing too, whatever it may have been.
I saw someone playing a piano when I was little and they made it look so easy, and I thought they were pretty cool. So, I took piano lessons.
I saw this guy playing a guitar and I wanted to do that too. So, I took guitar lessons.
I saw this man on TV playing a trumpet, and boy, could he blow that horn and make it sound awesome. I thought maybe I could learn to do that too. So, I took trumpet lessons.
I got a harmonica, and tried to teach myself how to "blow the harp."
But, whether it was playing the piano or playing guitar, or trumpet, or harmonica, the only way I could ever learn to conquer any one of them, I found out I would have to practice. And practice. And practice some more.
I wanted to play a musical instrument but I just couldn't get that practicing thing down right.
My goodness! That was hard work.
And I made a lot of noise; on the piano and on the guitar and on the trumpet and on that harmonica. Noise!
That's all I made was noise!
Those other people made music, beautiful music, soul-stirring music, music to sit back and close your eyes and thoroughly enjoy kind of music. But, I made noise!
So I quit my piano lessons. I quit my guitar lessons. I quit my trumpet lessons, and I even quit trying to teach myself how to play that old harmonica.
Years later, I found this poem in a book that belonged to my mother. The book was a collection of poems by her favorite poet, Edgar A. Guest.
The poem is called "Don't Quit." It goes like this:
"When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low but the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit...
Rest if you must, but don't you quit!
"Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many failures turn about
When we might have won had we stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow...
You may succeed with another blow.
"Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
"Success is failure turned inside out...
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit."
I was inspired by that poem at a time when I needed to be reminded to hang in there, and I have gone back to that poem many times for inspiration since.
I know there are times when we all feel like giving up, but God can help us muster the strength to hold on.
The Apostle Paul said, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)
Paul was not a quitter, he moved forward, and God wants to encourage all of us to do the same. Don't quit!
I may not be able to play a musical instrument, but I have learned to sing with the best of them, as long as everyone is singing with me.
And I have learned to move forward and not quit.
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.