20 February, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Perseverance – And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
At the beginning of the week we acknowledged that sometimes your patience is tested in the midst of activity. A marathon comes to mind. After you have run 20 miles or so, it feels like you should be done already. Unfortunately you are not done, and no matter how much you want it to be over you still have to put one foot in front of another. There’s no short cut, no way you can sprint that last 6.2 miles and quicken the finish. You grit your teeth and tell yourself to keep going. At the same time other thoughts race through your head: you don’t have to do this; why did you sign up for the silly race anyway; winners sometimes quit! Those are not uncommon thoughts in the midst of a long stretch of activity. You may not recognise them, but those are impatient excuses that want something to be over before its time. Perseverence is the characteristic that carries us past the impatience and to the finish line.
Throughout these Lent reflections we have been trying to see desirable characteristics in Jesus, so that we can model ourselves after him. If you spent any time with a group of people who do not understand what you are trying to teach despite all your best creative efforts, you know what it means to persevere. That was Jesus experience trying to teach the religious elite of his day, and doubly frustrating was his experience in trying to get through to his own disciples. Yet, he kept at it for three long years. I think the greatest illustration of Jesus hanging in there, despite the pain, is his willingness to push himself through the cross journey. The Bible describes Jesus as enduring the cross whilst enduring hostility. He persevered through the cross experience, knowing he could have called an end to it. He told Pilate he could call down legions of angels. Instead, Jesus pushed himself to go all the way to death, to the point where he could say ‘it is finished.’ He didn’t have to put up with it, but he did and doing so showed perseverance.
We are now 10 days into Lent. How’s it been going for you? Did you start off with great enthusiasm and now has it waned somewhat? Well, this would be the time to focus and persevere. Have you found the task you took on too hard or whatever you gave up for Lent has been too painful? If so, that’s too bad, but it’s okay, because it gives you a chance to persevere. We don’t want to be masochists, but if we make life too easy, we never learn to persevere. Fight the temptation to downgrade the challenge to something easier or to just give up all together. Press on. The fact that you may have missed a few days, says nothing about tomorrow and the next day. Let the days ahead speak of your new-found sense of perseverance.