In the early 1920’s, there was a young man by her name of Theodore Geisel who, in my opinion, was well ahead of his time. He died known as a man who was a visionary and a creative at heart. From a young age, he was willing to work hard to see his dreams come to fruition. At age 18, he left his home in Springfield, Massachusetts to attend Dartmouth College. He later graduated with his Bachelor’s degree, and moved on to attend the University of Oxford in England. The goal was to graduate and become a professor, but he instead became a college dropout.
After leaving his days in England behind him and returning to the states, Geisel took on a new endeavor and began pursuing full-time cartooning. He started gaining traction towards the late 1920’s and actually landed a job at a company called Standard Oil, where he would spend the next 15 years drawing ads for them, and becoming pretty well known nationally for his illustrations.
Fast forward to the mid 1930’s, Geisel had written his first children’s book, and now wanted to take a crack at writing his own children’s book. Not only that, but with his background in cartooning, he wanted to illustrate his own books as well. He would work tirelessly, writing for 8 plus hours a day, taking a few small breaks in between to tend to his garden. Geisel finished the manuscript for his first book, and was ready to get the book on bookshelves across the world! One problem though, his book got rejected by the first publisher. To make matters worse, it also got rejected by the next twenty-six publishers he went to. Yes, that’s twenty-seven rejections in a row! Talk about discouragement.
After Geisel’s twenty-seventh time being rejected, he walked out of the publishers office feeling more despondent than ever. Imagine having an idea that you’re passionate about get rejected because others don’t see the potential you see. He started on his way back home with a long face and his manuscript under his arm, feeling like a failure. Feeling like he wasn’t able to succeed in this area he was passionate about. But at just the right time, in the middle of his walk back home, he ran into an old friend from his days at Dartmouth College. Geisel’s friend, Mike, asked what was under his arm. Geisel responded with, “That’s a book no one will publish. I’m lugging it home to burn.”
Now, I’m a firm believer that if we don’t grow weary in well doing, then we will reap a harvest at just the right time. But this part of the story just absolutely blows my mind! Lean into your seats, grab some popcorn (preferably Pop Secret), and watch this!
After Geisel explained to his friend Mike that his book had been rejected twenty-seven times, Mike actually revealed some very promising news. He mentioned that he had just been made the editor for children’s books for a publishing company called Vanguard that same morning. After inviting Geisel back to his office and reading over the book, Mike and his publisher bought the book that day! On December 21, 1937, ‘And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street’ was published. The author; Theodore Geisel, or, more famously known as, Dr. Seuss!
That book went on to sell 31,600 copies in the first 6 years of its release. Over the course of his very impressive and illustrious career, Dr. Seuss published a little over 60 books. He has sold millions of books worldwide. In fact, in 2013, he sold 3.5 million books! IN ONE YEAR! As of today, Dr. Seuss is still selling roughly 11,000 books every single day, and he’s not even alive anymore! And if that wasn’t impressive enough, in 1999, Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure opened up an entire theme park based around Dr. Seuss’ books and illustrations.
And to think, if he hadn’t bumped into his friend Mike after getting ready to burn his first book. If he had just gone home and thrown in the towel. If he had just quit on his idea of getting his book published and returned back to working his job, then the world would most likely have no idea who Dr. Seuss is today.
I share that story to say this: BETTER THINGS ARE IN STORE FOR YOU! It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many people shoot your dreams down or laugh at you. It doesn’t matter how many times you go broke in the process of pursuing your dream. No matter the obstacle, setback, or challenge; better things are still in store for you!
I get it. Life sucks. Trust me, I know the feeling all too well. Life can and will have no mercy in beating us down. In fact, I have this theory that life takes pleasure in beating us down. But that doesn’t mean we give up. It’s up to us to make the choice to persevere. It’s up to us to not follow the pattern of quitting that most people have. It’s up to us to wake up every day and fix our eyes on the prize. I love what Paul said in Philippians 3. In the middle of prison, just days before his death, he says this;
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but so focus on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT)
Ladies and gentlemen. Brothers and sisters. We must keep our eyes on where God has called us to. And even if you’re reading this and don’t know exactly what God has called you to, then you still have got to consistently choose to wake up everyday and seek after Him. I can assure you that if you seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, that everything else you need will be added.
I think we spend more time focusing on how discouraged we are rather than focusing on how much God is right in front of us trying to encourage us. I think we spend more time focusing on how tired we are of being tired we are of being in the middle, that we forget to look ahead and see the beautiful things God has in store for us. We get so wrapped up in the valley, that we forget to keep our eyes on the mountaintop.
This world is growing at supersonic speed into a world that gives up entirely too easy. We fail that class we wanted to do well in, so we don’t try again. We don’t do well at that new job we’ve been praying for, so we quit in hopes to find something better. We leave that church that we got a little hurt by, and instead of trying to talk our pain out with our brothers and sisters, we take the easy route and migrate to another church, only to get hurt there and repeat the cycle all over again.
Now, in no way am I trying to undermine or demean church hurt. I’ve been there before. When I was 16, and (at the time) walking with God for about a year, I performed on stage at my church, which is a mega church. From that point on, I started noticing that people weren’t trying to have conversations about my life or family or school, but just about my gift. It hurt because I felt like I was just “the rapper” boy and that I wasn’t a human that was in need of genuine friendships just like anyone else. It’s a feeling I bottled up until I felt like it started to get out of control. I left for about a month, only to return right back to my church and actually have a discussion with my Pastor about how I felt. Things got resolved, and now I’ve been on leadership at my church for a little over year now, and I’m more involved than I’ve ever been in the past.
I know what it’s like to want to leave a church. However, I realized that, just like pretty much anything in life, I leave because I’m tired and feel like quitting, then I’m going to leave the next spot for the exact same reason. (I may step on some toes with this), but that’s exactly why I feel like the divorce rate in America is currently 45%! When things get difficult, we come to the realization that we wanted a wedding more than we wanted a lifelong, better or worse, rich or poor, healthy or sick, til death do us part marriage.
We have a hard time committing in the middle class and that has GOT to change! I guarantee that if you just stay planted and change your perspective, then you will find the endurance and strength to keep moving forward. You will find the 2nd wind you need to keep going.
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.”
Galatians 6:9-10 MSG