The fourth bone of success
“Now, Michael, me boy,” the old Irishman said, “just remember the three bones and you’ll get along all right.”
“What bones, Grandfather? What do you mean?”
“I mean your wishbone, your jawbone, and your backbone. It’s the wishbone that keeps you going after things. It’s the jawbone that helps you ask the questions that are necessary to finding them. And it’s the backbone that keeps you at it until you get them!”
It’s a good perspective, I agree. But the old man forgot a pair of bones: Throughout the whole process, we need our knee bones for praying. Stooping to our knee bones carries us higher and farther than we could ever go alone.
Choice is among the most powerful forces on earth. But it pales in comparison to Father’s power to uplift us when we’re discouraged, strengthen us when we’re weak, guide us when we’re blind.
Despite our awesome power to choose, we are weak, ignorant, and limited beyond comprehension.
The most important choice we can ever make is to humble ourselves before God and earnestly seek His guidance, strength, and peace. Our power to choose is elevated and enlightened by surrendering it upon His altar.
“I have been driven many times to my knees,” wrote Abraham Lincoln, “by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
Prayer, said Gandhi, is “daily admission of one’s weakness.” We cannot access our deepest strength until we admit our abject weakness before Father. The weakest man is he who believes he is strong alone.
We’re magnetized by William Ernest Henley’s fierce declarations in his seemingly inspirational poem, Invictus:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Yet Orson F. Whitney gave us a much fuller, more accurate version of truth in his response to Invictus:
Art thou in truth?
Then what of Him who bought thee with His blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood,
Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but Him could bear-
That God who died that man might live
And endless glory share.
Of what avail thy vaunted strength
Apart from His vast might?
Pray that His light may pierce the gloom
That thou mayest see aright.
Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree,
Thou, captain of thy soul! Forsooth,
Who gave that place to thee?
Free will is thine — free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.
Bend to the dust that ‘head unbowed,’
Small part of life’s great whole,
And see in Him and Him alone,
The captain of thy soul.
The only unconquerable man is he who recognizes his pitiful and wretched weakness and relies upon Father to compensate. The captain who sails truest and farthest is he who consults not only with navigational charts and stars, but also with the Captain of the Universe.
The fuel we get from our wishbone, the answers we get from our jawbone, and the work we perform with our backbone are nothing compared to what we get when we drop to our knee bones.