Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.
Writer Napoleon Hill wanted to discover why Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were so successful. After studying their careers for a number of years, Hill came to this conclusion: “I found no quality save persistence, in either of them, that even remotely suggested the major source of their stupendous achievements.” The single factor that distinguishes successful people from unsuccessful people is persistence–that is, the ability to keep moving forward in your God-given goals in spite of the obstacles you face.
That is not a new observation. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said basically the same thing in the book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter 10, Solomon warned against behaving like a fool. The foolish person is a slave to his impulses, and because of that he is hopelessly unproductive. But a successful person has learned the value of persistence. Persistence means to continue moving forward in spite of your inward feelings or your outward circumstances.
In Ecclesiastes 11, Solomon described three qualities of the persistent person. First of all, a persistent person makes multiple efforts. Solomon said, “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days” (v. 1).
That word translated as “cast” means “send.” Many commentators believe Solomon was talking about sending out ships. If you were a king and you wanted to expand your income, you would send out empty cargo ships to foreign lands, and hopefully some of those ships would bring back wealth. The more ships you sent out, the more likely you were to find treasure. Today, we might say the more résumés you send out, the more likely you are to get a job offer. Or the more people you share the gospel with, the more converts you are likely to make.
Why are we to take chances and make multiple efforts? Look at verse 6: “Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.” In other words, you do not know which efforts God will choose to bless. If you are looking for a job right now, do not say, “I am sure this company would not hire me,” and come up with all these excuses not to send out your résumé. Or if you are thinking about sharing the gospel with somebody, do not say, “I do not think that person would be open to the gospel,” and limit your witnessing. Make multiple efforts, because it is the sovereignty of God that determines which efforts God will bless.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power of Persistence” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich” (New York: Ballantine, 1983), 164.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.