Rev. Dr. Ulmer Marshall Jr. delivered a speech based on Joshua 1:1-5 at Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne) when he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree (May 23, 2014). The following excerpts are from Dr. Marshall’s speech.
Arise, there are still souls to be won, there’s still God’s work to be done and Satan’s kingdom to be torn down.
Now don’t think that this is going to be easy. Sometimes you will give your best, and your best won’t seem good enough, and you will begin to wonder if you are really called to this work; but just go on. Sometimes you will go out of your way to help people, and the very ones you have tried to help the most will be the first to turn their backs on you; but just go on. Sometimes when you try to stand for what’s right, it will seem as if you are standing by yourself. But don’t worry about it; just go on. Sometimes it will seem as if the system will destroy you, but just go on. In spite of the high mountains, go on; in spite of the deep valleys, go on; in spite of the wide rivers, go on. In spite of being betrayed by friends, and rejected by relatives, and railed by your enemies, I say to you, go on.
Sometimes people will get mad at you and fight what you are trying to do for them, sometimes your staunch supporters will become discouraged and fall by the wayside; sometimes people will get mad and quit — but you just go on.
As God spoke to Joshua, so God speaks to you today. When you are overwhelmed by life’s problems and life’s setbacks: when you have tried to be good pastors, deaconesses, teachers, professors, good leaders, good Christian men and women, good husbands and wives, and it seems as if the devil has made a shambles of your work, your lives, your homes, your marriages; when the responsibilities are great, the odds against you are overwhelming, and you are most aware of your own weakness and shortcomings — God speaks to you simply with a word of persistence: ‘Don’t give up. Keep on fighting. Keep on trying. Just go on.’ In spite of the stumbling blocks thrown in your way and the ditches that have been dug and snares that have been set, just go on anyhow. Go on, even though many false prophets shall arise and deceive many and lead many astray. Even though iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold, you just go on anyhow, because the person who endures to the end shall be saved. …
You can go on because God is your protector, because Jesus is your traveling companion, because the Holy Spirit is your comforter and guide. Therefore, no matter what happens from day to day, go on. No matter what foes appear in battle array, go on. No matter who tells you that you cannot make it, you know in whom you have believed, so go on, trusting in the Lord. When you have been falsely accused and are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake; when jealous-minded, vindictive spirits, petty souls, and unconverted hearts cast your name out as evil, trust in God and go on. David said about it, ‘In all my born days, I’ve seen a lot of things happening in this world, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor God’s children begging bread.’
To read Rev. Dr. Ulmer Marshall Jr’s entire speech, visit: Concordia Theological Quarterly (edition 78, 2014: 144-147)