The Call To Perservere

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Perseverance is described as “the patient endurance of hardship; persisting in a state or enterprise in spite of difficulties and discouragement…” according to the New International Version of my Life Application Bible published by Zondervan.

Several New Testament writers talk about perseverance. Here are a few of them:

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3

Rejoice in my sufferings? I’ll try.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” Hebrews 10:36-39

Don’t shrink back? I’ll give it my best shot.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3 & 4

Consider it pure joy? I’ll never make it. Rejoicing is hard enough.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8

Make every effort?!? Okay. Okay, already. I get it. For crying out loud….

Perseverance….it’s not my best trait. BUT, it’s something I’ve come to realize is very necessary in my walk of faith. When I think of “patiently enduring” I almost have to laugh. Only at myself because I know Me so well. I’m not what you call an extremely patient person, but I do think I’m enduring…

enduring in the sense that I know God “will complete the good work He has started in me and will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

I am not about to give up on myself!! I WANT to produce this quality of Christ that is so perfect and complete. I may not reach this perfection in my earthly body, but one day…ONE GLORIOUS DAY…I will see Jesus face-to-face and on that day I will be perfect. Until then, God is forever “working it out in me.”

Thank heaven for that!!

One of the prayers I frequently pray is Psalm 138:8,

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the works of Your hands.” 

To think, there is actually hope that this perseverance I struggle to characterize in my imperfect, little self will actually produce something of great value and worth in God’s sight.

When I think of seasons of hardship and keep them in proper perspective I can actually find something to rejoice in.

When I think of seasons of difficulty and keep my eyes on Jesus I can actually believe and save myself from a lot of inner misery.

When I think of seasons of disappointment and keep my mind on Forever I can actually find great joy.

Because this moment in which I am living, in light of Forever, is very short.

Whatever I’m facing, whatever I’m patiently enduring, is but a speck when compared with all of eternity. These moments here on earth are really just one long season of waiting…

waiting for something bigger and better and more beautiful than anything I can possibly imagine.

And so I patiently wait…

God is all about patience, perseverance and perfection.

Over and over again He teaches me, trains me, and tests me

to build a faith within me that anchors me, ables me, and arms me

to take a good look inside of me, above me, and around me

that I might be a child of the King who keeps a proper perspective.

This world is full of people who have no saintly help, no earthly hope, no heavenly home to look forward to.

Deep within me is a longing for this heavenly home. God has placed it inside us all, but some don’t even know what this longing really is. It’s the place where Jesus is preparing our forever-ness.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Perfection takes time.

It can’t be rushed. There are many more who still need to be brought into the Kingdom. Jesus has many more glorious riches to bestow and more great rooms to build.

And this is why I can patiently endure. This is why I can persevere. This is why I can strive to rejoice, to not shrink back, to consider it pure joy, to make every effort. This is why I can wait…for those who seek Him to find Him, those who find Him to know Him, and those who know Him to love Him.

Because my life on this earth was meant to draw others to the Savior and, somehow, God uses my faithful perseverance through hardships, through difficulties, through disappointments to speak His Truth, shine His Light, and share His Love. Oh, yeah.

Yeah. Okay, already. I get it.

And I am so very grateful God never abandons the work of His hands.

It Was One Of Those Days–Part 2!

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Have you ever wondered why we seem to be able to keep ourselves together better in the roaring storms of life than we do in silent showers?

Or how we seem to hold ourselves up better in the bigger trials than smaller struggles?

Or when we seem to press on better through major distractions than minor frustrations?

Yeah…I’ve wondered myself.

When I’m having one of those days, it’s usually the little things that pile up until they become a mountain of turbulence threatening to spew out hot bottled-up feelings and fiery pent-up emotions. I’m the type of person who has to let it all out with a good cry.

See, the thing is, as bad as that sounds, I know I have a God whose rain is more refreshing than any silent shower, whose hands hold me tighter through every small struggle, whose strength presses me past all those minor frustrations. I need Him just as desperately in the day-to-day of life as I do in life’s fiercest battles.

And He’s not turned off by my tears.

If I can trust God for the big things, I can trust Him for the little things, too, because He’s the God who cares about every little detail of my life. To think that God isn’t in the quieter showers is to say that He doesn’t care. To think that God isn’t in the smaller struggles is to say He doesn’t understand. To think that God isn’t in the lesser frustrations is to say I don’t matter to Him and I know all that is a lie.

If you read my last post, you know I’ve had days lately when I just needed a good cry. Shortly after that long 10-hour work day in which my body was both physically and mentally depleted, I went to spend a few days with my parents in Virginia. My father pastors a tiny church and I enjoy worshipping with these gentle “older” folks who have big hearts and a lot of soul. Besides, every opportunity that I can hear my father preach is always sweet.

There are very few young adults in my father’s church, but there’s a young woman named Pam who attends with her Mom when she isn’t working. Pam is precious. She’s sweet. She’s kind. And she can sing. I love it when it’s her turn to provide the special music on the Sundays I’m there.

I drank deeply as Pam sang, “Will You Hold Me While I Cry?” by Karen Peck and New River. It’s blue grass. Even if you’re not a blue grass fan, this song speaks to the deep caverns in every one of us who’ve ever had one of those days. I’d never heard it before and it didn’t take long for my spirit to respond with tears that flowed freely. I couldn’t stop them. I didn’t even try. Because the words Pam sang spoke to that place inside of me where I know why I love Jesus so. Why I love how He cares for me. Why I love how He loves me. Why I love how He understands me. Why I love how I matter to Him.

Why I love how He cares about my tears.

Because over and over again He’s proven Himself to be my Comforter. My Friend. The One who pours out mercy like a river and love like an ocean when I feel alone. Who reaches out for me with strong hands and a firm grip when I feel weak. Who picks me up and carries me when I have nothing left.

I don’t care how long I’ve been walking with Jesus or how spiritual I think I ought to be, I still have bad days.

I still struggle with laying my burdens at my Savior’s feet. I still wrestle with my inner man and battle with my imperfect faith. I still fall apart at the seams and I still let Him put me back together. I still pant for streams of Living Water and I still long for the Lover of My Soul.

I hope I never get tired of running back to Jesus, over and over and over…

So…gracious me, if you feel like you need a good cry…go ahead. Because when the tears flow…so does the Spirit. He pours out love in a never-ending supply.

Because that’s who God is…He’s love, even when you’re having one of those days.

It’s been one of those days; if anything could go wrong it went wrong

I know I’m feeling sorry for me, there’s a lot of self-pity going on

Tomorrow I will be okay; the dawn will bring a brand new day

I’m sure by then I’ll be fine

Lord, today I really need a friend; I know that You would understand

Would you hold me while I cry? (Karen Peck and New River)     https://youtu.be/3v40qZSX5sQ   

It Was One Of Those Days-Part 1!

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I. Am. Pooped.

Sometimes I’m “too pooped to pop.”

Simply put…sometimes I’m a little more than just plain tired. I don’t know, maybe this term is vulgar to some, but I remember my Mom saying it when I was growing up. I’ve always thought it was kinda funny and it makes me giggle. It helps me down-grade the blahs and lighten up days when skies look kinda gray.

I started a new job a couple of months ago working part-time for the same chain of grocery retail stores where my husband is a co-manager. I unpack boxes and stock shelves on Thursdays, sometimes Fridays, too. I feel the need to remind you that I’m 57 years old.

In the past year, I’ve taken on some other roles, both in the church and in my local community, that have kept me busier than I’ve been in the last 8 years since we moved to our tiny town in North Carolina. Some mornings I wake up and I can’t remember what day it is. I have to lie in bed for a few seconds and think about it. Please tell me some of you have this problem, too. Yes?

No? Alrighty then. Moving on…

I remember being so physically and mentally exhausted a few weeks ago after working a nearly 10-hour day that when I punched the clock and got in my car I started to cry…”Lord, what am I doing here? How long can I possibly work like this?”

Don’t get me wrong…I love to work. I actually like to work hard. I believe God created us to work. After all, He put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work it and care for it and Paul mentions in his New Testament letters that he didn’t rely on others to provide for him but chose to work at his skill as a tentmaker to provide for himself. I decided early on when I first began working grocery retail that I would pretend I was going to the gym to work out.

(Since hitting my mid-century birthday, I’ve come to realize the importance of keeping my temple clean. Let’s face it, the older we get, the harder it is to keep off the unwanted weight and the extra pounds. I try to walk as part of my fitness routine, but I’ve also had to make a lot of dietary changes.)

My work is pretty physical. Between climbing up and down a 6-foot ladder to reach the top of a mountain of stacked boxes, loading them on carts out to the floor then unpacking them, lifting, carrying, bending, stooping, reaching, rearranging, blah, blah, blah…you get the picture…I am literally pooped at the end of the day.

Anyway, back to that 10-hour day when I was so tired I couldn’t help but cry…not only had I hit my funny bone that day on a metal shelf (I actually danced in the aisle, rubbing my elbow, with tears streaming down my face), but I also smashed the middle finger of my right hand, drew blood on my left forearm breaking down a cardboard box, and THEN….the icing on the cake was banging my head on a wire bracket sticking out from the wall that I didn’t see because I have no vision on my left side. I had to hold a paper towel to my head for 5 minutes to stop the bleeding. After that, came the pounding headache. My head was sore for days after.

But, here’s the thing…when I left work that night at 8:00 with a downcast soul, God gave me the most beautiful gift. I drove down country roads with my eyes on the most amazing sunset. At 8:15 I actually pulled over into a farmer’s field of soy beans, parked the car and snapped a sweet picture as a reminder of the goodness of God.

When every muscle in my body was screaming at me, God. Enouraged. Me. He reminded me,

He keeps me and sustains me.

He lifts me up and makes me strong.

He is the lifter of my head.

He never, never leaves me.

He gives me everything I need to carry on, day after day after day, no matter what I’m doing, no matter where I’m going, no matter who I’m gracing.

Not only does He paint the skies, but He colors my whole world, even when I feel all gray and washed out.

When I’m having one of those days God gets right in the middle of it and even in busy seasons when one day seems to run right into another I know each day is a gift. We don’t know the impact we have when we learn to appreciate the length of our days. To think of a difficult day as meaningless and purposeless is to lose sight of the gift. To live as though my life is short in light of an eternity with God is to keep a proper perspective and cherish each day as priceless.

So, when I’m having one of those days, I want to be the kind of person who says to God,

“Teach me to number my days, that I may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

And then, when I least expect it, He will give me a prize…like a sunset.

And I am no longer pooped.

I am renewed.