Survive and Thrive

Having survived 2021, perhaps all of us are ready for inspiration. As we travel around the sun this year, perhaps the illustration below can help us reach for a worthy goal-- to not only survive, but to thrive.

How does one “survive” and avoid becoming decadent when surrounded by opulent wealth? It’s hard to imagine that problem, yet one young man in the last century accepted the challenge.

He was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. William Borden (1887-1913) was the only son of wealthy parents (think Borden Milk Company). As was common for the socially elite, his parents gifted him with a trip around the world after his high school graduation. He was only 16 years old.

On that trip, Bill Borden became particularly touched by the hurting people in China. When he wrote home that he wanted to be a missionary, friends and family reacted in alarm. They said he was throwing away his life. Who would manage the family fortune someday? His father tried to talk him out of what he considered a rash plan.

Borden wrote in his Bible, “No Reserves” and continued toward his goal.

Having given his heart and life to Christ, Bill began studies at Yale University. One day Yale’s president gave a lecture about “having a fixed purpose.” However, after this student observed the morally bankrupt student body and humanistic faculty, it was his turn to be disturbed. The school president failed to say HOW to gain that fixed purpose. He determined to find out.

Sometime during his first semester at Yale, Borden began meeting with a friend to read the Bible and pray before breakfast. By the end of the year, 150 freshmen were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By his senior year, 1,000 of Yale’s student body were meeting in like groups. The personable young man was discovering his purpose, step by step.

That was only the beginning. Borden became known for having a heart for the down-and-out around New Haven. He entered cheap lodging houses or restaurants in the trashy parts of the city, found hungry derelicts, fed them, and directed them to the One who could change lives forever. The result was his founding Yale Hope Mission, a place to rehabilitate alcoholics.

During this time Borden wrote the next of three phrases for which he became famous. On the flyleaf of his Bible, he penned the words, No Retreat. And he meant it. Turning down lucrative job offers after finishing Yale, he entered graduate work at Princeton Seminary to prepare for missionary work in China. He traveled to Egypt to study two difficult languages, Arabic and Chinese.

Unfortunately, Borden never made it further than Egypt. After only a month, spinal meningitis claimed his life.

The would-be missionary’s father was understandably distressed upon hearing the news of his son’s death. But Bill wasn’t finished inspiring others, even after leaving life on earth.

One day, one of Bill’s close friends sent a package to the elder Bordens. In it was their son’s personal Bible. Thumbing through the volume, the distraught father came across three phrases on the back flyleaf which explained his son’s extraordinary purpose.

Under the phrases No Reserves and No Retreats were the faith-inspiring words, No Regrets.

Twenty-five-year-old Bill Borden walked into the presence of Christ, never regretting refusing to become the billionaire his father intended. He accomplished more in his short life than others did in many more years.

So, what about our tiny resolutions, our goals for this year? The eternally worthy ones can be accomplished with the help of Borden’s God.

Let’s resolve to make the most of the time we have left on this earth, with eternity’s values in view.

How about you? Care to share any goals? Feel free to comment in the box below.