Do you remember the old fable “The Tortoise and the Hare”?   The tortoise (turtle) and the hare (rabbit) are going to race.  The favorite seems obvious – a rabbit versus a turtle!  The race begins and the hare takes off with a cloud of dust in a mad dash.  The tortoise finally gets off the starting line and settles into his slow deliberate gate.  But the hare, thinking there’s no way he can lose, gets distracted, goes off course, and disregards the task of finishing the race.  The tortoise just keeps plodding along, slowly but surely, one step after another until he crosses the finish line ahead of the hare.  
I see a lot of spiritual truth in that old fable.  In the long run it’s not the quick flash of energy and excitement that accomplishes the most in the Lord’s Kingdom.  Rather, it’s patient, steadfast, day-in-day-out faithfulness – the determination to keep plodding on that bears fruit that lasts.  Many in the religious world are looking for high voltage excitement as they leap from one spiritual high to another.  But the real test of discipleship isn’t whether we can serve God when the crowds are cheering and the flags are waving.  The real test is whether we can serve Him on the long dusty march in the heat of day.  What does it take to keep plodding on?
To keep plodding on we need to hold on!  We must hold on to God’s Word.  Doing so strengthens our faith and preserves our salvation.  1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”
1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  We must hold on to our hope, courage and conviction in Christ.  Hebrew 3:6 “But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”  Hebrews 3:14 “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.”
To keep plodding on we need to press on!  “Hold on” doesn’t mean stand still.  As we hold on we must also press on – striving to move forward (and upward) in our service to God and Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  We must not let our past – whether negative or positive – hinder us from pressing on in our Christian service.  The time to quit pressing on is when the trumpet sounds for  the Lord’s return.  Until then, press on!  
To keep plodding on we need to keep on!  Success in service to God and His Kingdom is a matter of keeping on in spiritual practices, like praying for and loving others.   Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  Hebrews 13:1 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”  The world champion boxer, James L. Sullivan, when asked the secret of his success said: “Fight one more round!”  That’s it!  Keep on!  Don’t give up!  Never quit!  
Galatians 6:9-10 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
   Living the Christian life is often compared to running a race in Scripture (e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7; Galatians 5:7; Hebrews 12:1).  The key to crossing the finish line and receiving the prize God promises to those who do is to plod on…hold on, press on, keep on!