Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lost Your Fizzle?

              I have a tendency to start out strong and fizzle out quickly. I am like that two liter bottle of soda you have sitting in your fridge. When you open me, I am full of flavor and carbonation. But the longer I sit, the less and less I become effective, and I begin to fizzle out. I have always been this way. My mom used to tell me to slow down, to take my time and be patient. I will start out on something and give it all I could in the beginning, but about middle way through I would begin to drag and eventually fizzle out. My life and walk of faith is not much different, and when it comes to enduring through an area of my life that the Lord has asked me to give Him, the same thing happens- start strong, fizzle out.

                As I thought about this character trait that I have, I began praying to the Lord about it. I know what He desires me to do, I know I need to do what He is asking me to do, and I know it will take time and patience to accomplish it all. The word that He gave me to bring me out of this flat, fizzled out state was “perseverance”. Perseverance occurs 8 times in the New Testament. Out of these eight verses, three stuck out at me. The first one is in Romans 8:25. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
                The second one was in 2 Peter 1:5-6, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness”. The last verse is James 5:11, “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
                In all these verses, the word “perseverance” means the same thing. It means steadfastness, constancy; it is the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and holy living by even the greatest trials and sufferings. (Vines Expository Dictionary) Perseverance is a patient enduring, a constant striving, it is a continual seeking of one’s hope in God. It is also the one thing that will keep us moving on the path that God has lain before us. For me, personally, this was exactly what I needed to hear this morning.
                My fizzle is beginning to wane, and I am finding myself once again losing the carbonation and the flavor of the calling He has placed before me. First and foremost, patience is not my strong suit. In fact, I prefer to get it done as quickly as possible so that I can move onto the next thing. However, sometimes, the Lord calls us to wait and be patient. He calls us to endure where we are at, to be strong in His timing and to not get ahead of ourselves. Every time I go too fast, I lose my fizzle, I lose sight of the purpose He has placed in my path and I end up leaving what He has asked me to do undone.
                I have prayed diligently for family members to give their lives to Christ, but not too long after these pleadings I have not seen results, so I fizzle out and don't pray as fervently as I began. Sometimes it is a project that He has asked me to tackle, and I take off like a sprinter, but halfway through the race I tire out. I see this more and more today than I did before, not only in my life, but in the life of others. We start out so on fire for Jesus, but when the trials and the sufferings come, we fizzle out and end up slipping backwards into our old ways.
                Paul says in Romans 8:25 that if we hope for something we cannot see, then we are waiting for it with perseverance. If the Lord God has given us a hope for something (whatever that hope is that He has given you) and we do not continue to press through and persevere, then we will fizzle out and we will not see the end of that for which we so diligently hoped for. Peter tells us that we are to give everything we have, but not all at once. Perseverance in our faith, in the hope of a calling He has placed on our lives, or whatever else it is that we wait for is bringing ourselves to a place of continual commitment to Him. Perseverance is not starting big and fizzling out before the end. Perseverance is a slow walking, a day by day commitment to do whatever, to go wherever and to continue on the path that He has placed before us.

                James 5:11 gives us an example of what perseverance looks like. He uses Job to remind us that no matter what the struggle, no matter what the trial, if we would just sit and patiently endure the path ahead of us, the rewards we will reap are ones of compassion and mercy. Job endures some of the most horrible suffering a human could be taken through, and he did it with perseverance. David Guzik writes, “A farmer does not give up when his crop does not come to harvest immediately. He keeps on working even when the crop cannot be seen at all. Even so Christians must work hard and exercise patient endurance even when the harvest day seems far away.”
                You do not plant a seed in the garden and give up on it after a few weeks, no you keep tending that seed, and you keep working it, doing whatever it takes to bring that little seed to fruition. It is no different in our lives. I give up too easily, I know I do. But my God, our God is a patient and loving God, a merciful and compassionate God who will see us through to the very end. Peter, Paul and James remind us that it is through patient, constant and continual walking that we will gain the prize. You cannot run until you have first learned how to walk. Perseverance is enduring in a course of action, enduring down a path that seems difficult, and it is the hope of the end if we continue and do not lose heart.
                I wrote in my blog the other day about how I was being called to serve the Lord in a much more difficult capacity than ever before. This call that He has given me has brought me to realize that I need perseverance in my life. We all need perseverance in our lives. It is the shoes we need to put on as we walk the paths the Lord has placed before us. We do not give up, we persevere. We do not give in, we keep on walking. We do not fizzle out; we stay strong and add to our perseverance the hope of the end. We may not see the end, but the One who set you on this path does, and He is standing at the end, waiting to rejoice with you when you get there.

                Do not lose heart, do not fizzle out, keep on persevering and He will see us through to the end. I do not know where you are in your walk, maybe you are praying for a lost family member, keep praying- do not give up, persevere, even when you do not see the change. Maybe you are where I am at, He has given you a purpose, a calling, keep on persevering, stay strong and constant in the hope that we have in Him. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.