Jim Denison on Luke Combs and the Peril and Promise of Persistence

FILE – In this April 15, 2018 file photo, Luke Combs arrives at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. A year after his major label debut, which spawned three top country radio hits including the multiplatinum No. 1 “Hurricane,” Combs’ unassuming appeal has given him mainstream success at a breakneck pace. His debut album is the most streamed country album of the year. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Luke Combs auditioned for The Voice several years ago but was turned down before he made it to the televised competition. A letter from the producers explained that he wasn’t “interesting” enough for their show. Last week, Combs won CMA Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year.

Persistence is essential to purpose.

Dustin Johnson won the Masters yesterday on his tenth try. He previously led going into the final round of five other majors, but his only win was at the 2016 US Open. Tiger Woods, last year’s champion and one of the greatest golfers of all time, made a ten on the twelfth hole yesterday after hitting his ball into the water three times.

In other words, persistence is essential to purpose, but it’s not enough by itself. I was privileged to attend the Masters several times when we lived in Atlanta, but all the golfing persistence in the world would not have enabled me to compete in the tournament.

Jim Denison

Persistence would not have been sufficient if I had met the monster alligator that prowled a Florida golf course during Tropical Storm Eta. Or if I were a victim of Hurricane Iota, an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane that is expected to make landfall in Central America tonight. Or if I were to join the more than eleven million Americans who have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began. (For more, see my latest video, “What does the Bible say about death?”)

It has been said that there is no courage without fear. But it is also true that courage is not enough to defeat fear.

“How’s that working for us?” 

I’ve been thinking about the peril of persistence in light of a remarkable essay I quoted last Friday. Biblical scholar Carl Trueman explains how our culture has become so self-centric to the rejection of orthodox morality. He then describes our need to model “true community, oriented toward the transcendent,” that can “show a rapidly destabilizing world of expressive individuals that there is something greater, more solid, and more lasting than the immediate satisfaction of personal desires.”

Here’s the part of Dr. Trueman’s essay that troubles me personally: he warns that Christians are in no sense immune from this quest for such “satisfaction.” He notes: “Every one of us is an expressive individualist now. So comprehensive is the revolution that we are all affected by it and all are at some level complicit.”

We might be tempted to point to those who reject biblical morality and pray with the Pharisee, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men” (Luke 18:11). But we can be as consumeristic and individualistic in our spirituality as others are in their sexuality.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison

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