QuitNowThe summer sun beat down on bicyclists strung out on the road for OK Freewheel, the annual cross-country ride traversing the state. This year from the Texas Panhandle to Arkansas, nearly 500 miles of scorched road during which several hundred riders tested their skill and endurance against weather and distance.

Grandson Skylar looked like a beaten pup when he crawled into our tent at the bottom of the second day, with five more days to go. He collapsed on his sleeping bag with a pitiful groan.

I knew what was coming.

“PaPa, I have an awful toothache, my head’s stuffed up, and. . .” On and on with a litany of ailments.

I remained quiet.

“PaPa?”

I waited.

“PaPa, I want to call Nana to come get me.”

“You’re quitting?”

He hung his head.

“You’re old enough now to make your own choices,” I said. “But I want you to think on this: If you quit now when the going gets tough, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. Quit once and it makes it easier to quit the next time, and the next, until quitting becomes a habit. Other people won’t be able to depend on you. Worse, you won’t be able to depend on yourself.

“Keep going and you’ll remember that too, that you went beyond what you thought you could do—and you made it. Either choice will affect the rest of your life, one way or the other.”

Miraculously, the toothache and his other ailments disappeared.

Five days later, within two miles of the Finish Line in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Skylar’s rear tire went flat. He refused to accept a lift by truck. Instead, he pushed his bike with its flat to the Finish Line. The look of pride on the kid’s face—I’ll never forget it.

“Hardship and horror, fear, loneliness, and rage have driven warriors over the centuries to reach for their spiritual side. The battlefield is as much a test of faith as it is a test of arms. . .”

From God In The Foxhole by Charles W. Sasser, winner of the Gold Medal from the Military Writers Association. Now available in Audio Book from Amazon.com—or in hardcover at selected bookstores and from Amazon.