Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the 26th president of the United States (1901-1909), was familiar with hardship. Three years into his marriage, his wife Alice, who had just given birth to their healthy baby girl, became gravely ill. At the same time, his mother, who lived with him in the same house, was also dying. Within hours the two women, closest to him and loved dearly by him, died.
It’s Teddy Roosevelt who penned these words which I’d like to share with you, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood . . . .” Teddy Roosevelt was that man, in the arena of life.
God calls us to be—and places us—in the arena of life. As sheep our place is not in a pen but rather out there in the open where wolves are roaming, and dangers are lurking. But that’s where God wants us to be. Our faces might be marred by dust and sweat and blood yet that’s where God wants us to be—in the arena of life. He’d rather see us beaten and broken in the arena than whole and clean as a whistle outside the arena. It is in the arena we know Jesus.
This week was rather special; our youngest daughter invited us, family, to celebrate her birthday. We had a wonderful time, but the most wonderful part was I got to pray for her and thank God for His love that never ceases. For seven years during her time away from God, Santy and I were “marred by dust and sweat and blood.” We were beaten and broken. But it was exactly where God wanted us to be—in the arena of life. You see, Jesus calls us to be in the arena because that’s where He is—inside the ring, not outside.