I am currently reading a book about the Wright Brothers, who are credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled flight. It had always been a dream of mankind to take to the air and fly like birds, and while hot air balloons had been in use for some time, it was universally assumed that mechanical human flight was impossible.
Wilbur and Orville Wright, however, paid no attention to the chorus of skeptical voices around them. By closely observing the flight of birds, they gained insight into the secrets of aerodynamics. They built and tested their own flying machines, some of which failed, but with each failure they gained more practical knowledge and experience. Wilbur and Orville persevered and eventually designed and built the Flyer, the first airplane in history, ushering in the dawn of a new age of aviation that radically changed the world.
I also found people in the Bible who were great examples of faith, determination, and perseverance. The Old Testament prophet Elijah prayed for rain when there had been a severe drought in the land of Israel for three and a half years. He got on his knees and prayed fervently over and over until he saw the answer.1
When Moses was called by God to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt, he initially tried to back out of it, arguing with God that he was incapable of such a monumental task. In the end, though, he obeyed God and stood up to the greatest and mightiest empire of his day, winning freedom for his people.
Another example of perseverance in the face of extreme odds was the apostle Paul. He persecuted the followers of Christ until Jesus turned his life around and called him to be His apostle to the non-Jewish world. It took some time for the other believers to recognize God’s anointing on him and that he was indeed called to be an apostle, and he faced persecution from the religious and civil authorities for the rest of his life. But he stuck to his task until he had evangelized most of the Roman Empire of his day and changed the face of civilization.
All these, and others, were men of faith who had a vision, and the faith, initiative, and courage to see that vision come to pass. And they changed the world.