The Obedient Sotiri

Obedience as will

The Obedient Sotiri
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The education of the will is the object of our existence. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
No man can ever estimate the power of will. It is a part of the divine nature, all of a piece with the power of creation. We speak of God's fiat "Fiat lux, Let light be." Man has his fiat. The achievements of history have been the choices, the determinations, the creations, of the human will.
It was the will, quiet or pugnacious, gentle or grim, of men like Wilberforce and Garrison, Goodyear and Cyrus Field, Bismarck and Grant, that made them indomitable. They simply would do what they planned. Such men can no more be stopped than the sun can be, or the tide. Most men fail, not through lack of education or agreeable personal qualities, but from lack of dogged determination, from lack of dauntless will.
"It is impossible," says Sharman, "to look into the conditions under which the battle of life is being fought, without perceiving how much really depends upon the extent to which the will-power is cultivated, strengthened, and made operative in right directions."
This is well illustrated by a report I have seen of the long race from Marathon in the recent Olympian games, which was won by the young Greek peasant, Sotirios Louès.
There had been no great parade about the training of this champion runner. From his work at the plough he quietly betook himself to the task of making Greece victorious before the assembled strangers from every land. He was known to be a good runner, and without fuss or bustle he entered himself as a competitor.
But it was not his speed alone, out-distancing every rival, that made the young Greek stand out from among his fellows that day. When he left his cottage home at Amarusi, his father said to him, "Sotiri, you must only return a victor!" The light of a firm resolve shone in the young man's eye.
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Few had heard of this young athlete Sotiri. But he won his race just as his father arrived at the finish line.
Past the ranks of royalty and fair maidenhood, past the outstretched hands of his own countrymen, past the applauding crowd of foreigners, his gaze wandered till it fell upon an old man trembling with eagerness, who resolutely pushed his way through the excited, satisfied throng.
Then the young face lighted, and as old Louès advanced to the innermost circle with arms outstretched to embrace his boy, the young victor said, simply: "You see, father, I have obeyed."
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Like Sotiri, how will you win through obedience? What's the race and who do you obey?
"I promised my God I would do it." In September, 1862, when Lincoln issued his preliminary emancipation proclamation, the sublimest act of the nineteenth century, he made this entry in his diary: "I promised my God I would do it."
Does anyone doubt that such a mighty resolution added power to this marvelous man; or that it nerved him to accomplish what he had undertaken? Neither ridicule nor caricature, neither dread of enemies nor desertion of friends, could shake his indomitable faith in his ability to lead the nation through the greatest struggle in its history.
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Keep this idea of obedience with you as you live your day. What promise would you keep? And to what authority? If you have an inkling, explore it now.

Story From

Orison Swett Marden Collection