Monday, October 31, 2016

Never Give Up

            I run and I bike. It is something I started to do a few years back after I saw how unhealthy I had become. I prefer to ride my bike, but there are days when I can’t because of time restraints or the weather is not cooperating. So, I took up running to counter balance my passion for cycling. Unfortunately, my days of playing sports and the injuries that resulted have made it hard for me to find the strength to push for that next mile. Lately I have found myself giving up because it just seemed to hard. There were times that it was painful on my knees and my enemy called Charlie Horse didn’t want to play around. But, on the other hand I had made a commitment to myself and to my God to take care of His temple; this body He bought when He died upon that tree. I just wish my knees would fall in line and start to agree!
            The other day I was pushing myself to keep going. I dug down deep and decided that no matter what, I was going to keep moving. The more I moved the more my knees screamed. I was just about to give up when I heard, “Persevere”. One word, that’s all it took. One simple word lit a fire in my muscles and I pushed past the pain and reached my goal. I had finally found the strength.
            Persevere and perseverance are not words commonly used in the Bible. They are only found in a few passages of scriptures. The ones I will be using today are found in Ephesians 6:18, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To the end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” And the other one is found in Revelation 3:10, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial that shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
            Both forms of this word describe a steadfastness in doing something despite the pain, sorrow or delay of results that might occur. Someone who perseveres may not see immediate results but they refuse to give up and they keep pushing through no matter the difficulty. I need to persevere and I need perseverance! I need to persevere not only in my physical life but in my spiritual life as well.
            Both times this word is used in scripture its context is in regards to prayer. It refers to someone, who despite the lack of results, even though their prayers seem to be hitting the ceiling, they persevere. This truth was brought home to me when I was reminded of the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18.
            “And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “in a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to His elect who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-9 ESV
            Jesus starts this parable by encouraging us that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.” My family members are unbelievers. Even though my children grew up in church and we all went to church together, they have all fallen away. I look back on it all and I question if they were ever true disciples of Christ at all. Their lives were not full of fruit and I don’t see hearts desiring to seek after God. I am the only one who currently seeks a relationship with Jesus Christ my Lord. My family will tell you that they believe, but they have no fruit in their lives. It is what it is, I can’t change this fact, only God can. This however, does not get me down and I do not lose heart. Quite the opposite in fact, this state of their hearts has caused me to pray, and to keep on praying every day for their salvation. It has been sixteen years and still I pray- every single day.
            I could easily give up. I could throw up my hands and say, “Oh well, I guess it’s not God’s will”. But then where would that perseverance be that Jesus talks about in Revelation, or that Paul encourages us to have in Ephesians? I may not see immediate results to my constant prayers for their salvation, but that doesn’t make me stop believing that God is faithful and just and will fulfill His promises to me.

            Look at the widow. She did not give up. She went to the door of that judge every single day and knocked and asked. She did not see any results, but that did not make her quit. She was most likely under the yoke of injustice and was most likely enduring long and hard trials. But every day she went and she pounded on that door. She kept knocking, she kept asking and she kept seeking. She did not lose heart, she persevered. God is not an unjust judge, but the principle that Jesus is teaching us is still the same. Don’t give up. Persevere. Keep asking, keep knocking and keep seeking. (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9) We must persevere.

            My goals to live a healthier lifestyle cannot be met if I give up. My desire to live a holy life cannot be attained if I don’t persevere. I must not be limited by the lack of results but must be encouraged by the hope that my God gives to those who persevere in His name. The runner doesn’t give up because he can’t see the end. He keeps running and pushing till he crosses the finish line. We must not give up praying for the lost, the unsaved, for healing, for whatever it is that you have been praying about. We must not lose heart. God will give justice to His elect who cry to Him day and night. For sixteen years, I have prayed every day and right now, before my eyes God is working and moving upon the heart of my son. I don’t know where this will go or what God is doing, but I see my years of persistent prayers being answered before my eyes. I am not going to give up. I will persevere. How about you?