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December 1, 2014, 12:00 AM

Patiently Endure




The story of Alvah C. Roebuck (1864-1948) is an interesting one, all be it a sad one.

Alvah Curtis Roebuck was born on January 9, 1864, in Lafayette, Ind., of English parentage.

When Alvah was three years old, his family moved to a farm about five miles outside of Lafayette. It was there that Alvah attended country school, and his mother took over the family farm when her husband died in 1876.

At an early age, Alvah showed a great interest in mechanical things, and at 16 he was already a self-taught watchmaker. When he reached 22, Alvah secured a position in a small jewelry store in Hammond, Ind. The following year, impatient to get ahead and earn more money, he began scanning the help-wanted sections of Chicago newspapers.

He met a man who was a railroad station worker, whom had received from a Chicago jeweler an impressive shipment of watches which were unwanted by a local jeweler. The railroad agent purchased them, then sold the watches for a considerable profit to other station agents, then ordered more for resale. Soon he started a business selling watches through mail order catalogs. The next year, he moved to Chicago where he met Alvah C. Roebuck, who joined him in the business. Farmers did business in small rural towns. Before the catalog, farmers typically bought supplies (often at high prices and on credit) from local general stores narrow selections of goods. Prices were negotiated (by the man of the family), and depended on the storekeeper's estimate of a customer's creditworthiness. Roebuck and his partner took advantage of this by publishing catalogs offering customers a wider selection of products at clearly stated prices. The business grew quickly. Their first catalog was published in 1888. In 1893, they renamed their watch company and began to diversify. By 1894, the catalog had grown to 322 pages, featuring sewing machines, bicycles, sporting goods and many more items that the rural community could buy through the mail.

The company had sales of $800,000 in 1895, but a full scale depression and panic in 1895—caused a cash squeeze and large quantities of unsold merchandise. Roebuck decided to quit and was bought out by his partner, Richard W. Sears, who made the company one of the largest retail stores of the 20th century. Roebuck later returned, but only in a publicity role. He missed the massive fortune, Sears was to create for the next 100 years.

When we commit to change and growth, we are often instructed to be patient and wait upon the Lord; but that doesn’t mean a passive patience. As we see in Hebrews, endurance, is used. That is an active patience. Keep moving, commit, grow and trust the Lord.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with  endurance  the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

I have committed to change in the form of major surgery. I have had setbacks. I will persist. My feet are healing and I will come back. Stronger in the Lord. Life is good. I am feeling better. I am a week or two from walking again. I will endure. I am so thankful! Praise God through Jesus Christ.

I could have been bitter. I could have blamed people for screwing up. Spending 30+ days housebound is not easy. I could have sued for a large chunk of cash. I could have quit. I had to decide; is God in charge or not? He is and He is with me! I can glorify God through this. That’s what I choose to do. Actively endure; spend time in prayer and study. I am growing and changing. That’s what I want to do. Be a vessel, although maybe not a perfect one at the moment, that God can use.

Do you persist? Are you pushing through the hard times? Or, are you an Alvah Roebuck who sells out when the journey gets tough? Don’t miss out on what God has for you!


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