Nov 13, 2020
You know it’s funny I used to think my college years were wasted. I finished 3 degrees, the last physical or on-campus degree I completed was my communications degree. The last 2 degrees I completed my business and pastoral ministry degree were completed online. Now, so many courses are online. Some of us have been forced into this movement whether we like it not. At the time I finished my degrees online it was more convenient for me as well. At the time the world seems to devalue online degrees because it was not popular. That’s what we do. We devalue what’s not popular.
I devalued myself for finishing online even though with 2 kids this was the more viable option for me. The truth is God wastes nothing. I should have never been worried about what other people thought. I should have valued the person God was making me into. And in that, there is always value. Dear friends, the biggest lesson I learned in my college years was the value of persistence. Just like persistence in class got me a bachelor's and master’s degree, I also learned that persistence in anything gets me progress.
First off, what do you think of when you think of persistence?
For me, it means “to keep going: to not give up.”
For many of us, we learn the value of persistence by living it. When we don’t get what we want we learn that in order to get it or to even find what’s best for us, we must keep going. We must persist.
The technical definition says that persistence is “continuing to exist or endure over a prolonged period.”
Indeed, persistence often involves a time-lapse. That’s never fun. Let us just refer to Amazon, you and I want things now. We want prime delivery. But some of the best things in life do not come overnight. Or even within the week.
Just think pregnancy: 9 long months, sometimes 7 or 8. In the end, when you see that bundle of joy it’s worth it.
Men: What about that shiny Ford F-150 Raptor? I’m sure that for most men that wasn’t their first car.
What about that new, improved attitude? We know that didn’t come overnight. But it would have never come at all if it wasn’t for you persisting. And a better, improved you is always worth pressing on.
Maybe you wrote a book or song you want to rise to the top of the charts? This could take a few short years or long ones, remember God is shaping you to handle all that success.
John, Jesus, Paul, Joseph, from the Bible all had to persist in order to achieve their goals. What were their goals? Their overall goal was to make disciples for Christ. For Jesus, His top goal was to save you and me from the pits of hell. Our salvation is God’s goal for humanity, but He uses a number of means to achieve this overarching goal such as through your job, your family, and your God-given gifts.
The question is are we persisting in our family, in our jobs, and with the gifts God gave us? Do we even know of God’s plan? This is where it’s easy to get stuck and give up. We get lost in our own selfish desires (hello, we are human), and we don’t persist because we’ve lost our passion. When we strive to know God and learn and pray about his plan for our lives we can persist in the face of opposition because we have a purpose. And God’s purpose for our lives is fulfilling and not easily snatched away unlike riches or fame. I mean look at the one-hit wonders you might have loved growing up. Perhaps, they are not as appealing as when we were we’re growing up. I mean where is Punky Brewster now? Or Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing? Yes, even our celebrity crushes die or disappear. Hopefully, through all the fame and endless shoe collections, they knew Jesus.
No wonder the Bible says it is hard for the rich to enter heaven.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’” – Matthew 19:23-24
Mind you it does not say “all.” Yet Jesus does say it is difficult. Why? Think about a rich celebrity that lacks no material item. They claim to have it all, what are they persisting for? Perhaps, their next feature film. But what about when the film is over and the next one rises to the top. There is always the “next big thing.” But if you are persistent with God’s plan for your life you will always be that next big thing.
How do you know God’s plan?
Come to know God and accept Him, believe Him, repent, Then the Holy Spirit will come into your life and will guide you. Everything about you will want to persist to accomplish God’s great plan that is fulfilling because God is the giver of peace. His peace will guide you and you will be passionate about the things that accomplish his good plan.
How can we practice persistence?
By taking small measurable steps every day. Don’t devalue the importance of consistent action. You can’t and shouldn’t build Rome in a day. After all, you would be too tired to enjoy the view.
“In general, any form of exercise if pursued continuously will help train us in perseverance. Long-distance running is particularly good training in perseverance.” -Mao Zedong
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
I know that if I stop running for a few days I backslide. Jesus in his race never stopped, and He did that all for us. Running these days can be hard enough. I simply must keep going every day if I want progress.
In one area of my life, I have seen major improvement because I have not given up and that is with strength training. Because I have not given up and persisted much of my fat has turned to muscle.
One area of my life that I keep slacking on is my nutrition. I’m like 50/50. And I can’t be 50/50 and make progress and achieve my goals of losing 20 pounds. Choosing to eat cake alongside my veggies overrides any progress.
I must be clear on my goal and make small measurable steps each day to grow.
If I had a “word” this year besides “different” it would be “keep going” or “persist.” What about you what do you need to keep going for? What do you need to start again that you’ve given up on? The time is now. Take this as your sign.
God is revealing to you and me how if we are not persistent then nothing we are trying to achieve or that better person we are trying to be, will never occur. What’s worse than slow progress is no progress at all.
The enemy aggravates us with the seemingly small stuff in hopes that we will never achieve the Big Stuff. In order to get to the big stuff, we have to persist in small things. I say seemingly small things because things such as getting up early every day to write on that book or exercise for 30 minutes eventually add up to big progress if you do not give up.
The rehab time, the counseling, the grueling practice for that sport you love, and all the veggies and you eat or breadless sandwiches all for the sake of better health and a slimmer waistline. You will overcome if you do not give up. The alternative? Each time you stop, you are that much farther behind. So please, keep going.
When Jesus was fasting, what does the enemy do in Matthew 4:1-11? He tries to get Him to give up. Same as you and me. The devil wants us to give up. But if we know God has a plan for us. If we know the value of persistence, we will not give up.
Knowing the enemy is here to destroy God’s good plan, of course, he doesn’t want us to achieve greatness because then all the glory goes to God.
Persistence means continuing despite the difficulty.
Most people at one point wanted to give up.
Perhaps you had got stuck in traffic
You had a fight with your spouse
You suddenly have a problem child,
You suddenly have a problem life
You suddenly have a problem with the person riding your bumper
These and many, many more obstacles all try our character and our patience and may influence our decision to give up. We must shake it off. Eventually, if we learn to see that there can be a better tomorrow, we can persist even with a better attitude.
If we have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning how much more will we have difficulty achieving our dreams, our deepest desires?
I know it’s hard. What is also hard is starting over. So, get that but out of bed in the morning and try again.
The special ingredient other than faith that helps us get over our troubles and achieve more than we could ever hope think or imagine is persistence.
‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” – Ephesians 3:20
God is a work within you, allow Him to work, and don’t give up.