Last Sunday, I observed my toddler drifting off to sleep on our way back from church. He’s always determined, it seems, to stay awake through the journey home, a journey of about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the traffic condition. On the drive home, I glance back a few times to check if he’s awake and believe it or not, he’s usually awake for at least two-thirds of the journey. But something ‘magical’ always happens in those last few minutes, and by the time we’re home – he’s fast asleep. It’s hardly ever more than 10 minutes of sleep that he gets, but he is never awake by the time we get home.
And that takes me to my point: finishing any effort – a marathon, a project, a course, whatever it is – always requires a commitment to see through what you started. Perseverance is a powerful virtue in the development of our character, one we must all strive for in our daily lives. It is the deliberate choice to follow through, no matter the adversity or difficulty we face. And it is often the last bit of effort we need to put in that seems to sap our energy the most. Like my son, it is those last few minutes of staying awake till we’re home that is the hardest. That is when the lure of sleep is greatest and determination to stay awake is greatly tested.
Whether learning a skill, getting an education, acquiring experience, building a relationship or working at any defined project, we must learn to persevere through the difficult seasons. Difficulties can help us persevere as we truly define what is more important to us – the ease we crave, or the goal we desire to achieve. While some efforts have a clearly defined end point, others are continuous, like building a relationship. But we must recognize that the gain we seek from nurturing those relationships do not come without persevering through difficult seasons.
As a Christian, perseverance is most important to us because the kingdom we are looking for is heavenly, not of this earth. What God has promised us are not things we can get in this world. So we wait with hope and walk by faith, trusting that what God has promised, he will perform. We look forward to the return of the Lord Jesus and the transformation of our bodies, knowing that His coming is nearer now than when we first believed. And we choose to live as strangers and foreigners in this world, ambassadors of another kingdom. We do all this, knowing that this age is rolling up to a close, and that we are on the home stretch to inheriting God’s eternal kingdom.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Heb 10:35, NIV)
But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matt. 24:13, NKJV)
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed (Romans 13:11, NIV)