Walt Disney faced a lot of adversity in his early career. His first venture, Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists, lasted one month. His second, Laugh-O-Grams, went bankrupt a year after incorporation. The work he produced was criticized, with Disney being fired from a newspaper job for lacking creativity. Financial triumphs such as Snow White were followed by epic flops such as Fantasia. But in spite of this, Disney persevered, creating a lasting legacy in the entertainment industry that the whole world knows and loves. One of the most important lessons we can teach our students here at FCS relates to the obstacles that they will encounter in their lives and how they can deal with them, and even thrive through the process. As a matter of fact, as adults, we continue to learn how to deal with the obstacles we face throughout our lives. As parents we know all too well the distractions that constantly encroach into our children’s lives. The good news is that obstacles can be overcome, and working together, between family and school, we can equip our students to meet the obstacles that we know will come their way. As parents we all have encouraged a child after a ball game or took them out for an ice cream when they were feeling down about a broken friendship. Those times can be very sweet because it allows us as parents to take part in their life in a way that can never be duplicated or replaced. Sometimes an encouraging word from a teacher is all it takes to help a student get past an obstacle they are facing in school.
It’s no different in our Christian lives as we struggle in our walk with the Lord. The obstacles we face spiritually are tossed our way by Satan himself. 1 Peter 5:8, “…your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, prowls about, seeking who he may devour.” Our Christian walk is often depicted as a race with obstacles. In Hebrews 12:1-2 the Bible speaks to how we can face the obstacles in this race. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with patience the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Walt Disney’s perseverance came from his dad who personally sacrificed to help him overcome a seemingly unattainable dream. Jesus Christ has done the same for us. According to this passage in Hebrews, we have to learn how to set aside whatever it is that is an obstacle for us in our lives. We all understand that overcoming obstacles in our lives is not easy but is sometimes necessary. For instance, when we have an attitude problem, we need to adjust our attitude. If the conduct of others is discouraging to us, we shouldn’t become discouraged because we have no control over them. When Peter inquired about the future of another disciple, John, Jesus said, “What is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21:22. More often than not what is needed is for us to step up to the plate and do our job. Many times, our conduct and attitude will inspire others to do better. If our obstacle involves sin, we need to repent and pray. Acts 8:22-23, “Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Sometimes our spiritual obstacle is that we are not growing spiritually. Just like Disney, who failed multiple times before achieving His dream, no one can overcome an obstacle without forethought and planning. It is no different in our spiritual walk, we have to make a plan in order to grow spiritually. We need set aside time to study God’s Word on a daily basis and we also need to pray regularly and allow God to speak to our heart. I believe an area that often causes weakness in the spiritual growth is the neglect of attendance and participation in the local church. The truth is that we need the local church and the local church needs us. Experience teaches us that spiritual growth takes time and great effort. We cannot learn everything we need from the Bible by casual reading. If we are going to grow in spiritual knowledge, we have to keep studying for life. Truly, Satan will put many obstacles in our way as we strive to grow spiritually. He despises our Christian school, our Christian families, and our churches. He doesn’t want them to grow so that the obstacles of life can be overcome. But our God is greater than the enemy. 1 John 5:4-5, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
Robert Andrews, Ph.D.