As a BSF group leader, in our study of the Acts of the Apostles this last year, one of my group members was amazed weekly through all the ways we are encouraged to persevere throughout the course of life's difficulties and opportunities. Stand tall. Stay the course. Finish the race. It was not just through the lessons each week, but every where she turned the word persevere was inserted... in sports articles, news, school programs, sermons and daily devotionals... even in a discussion with her nephew who was joining the armed services upon graduation. Our group members caught the drift of what God was showing her and began to tell her of ways they were seeing that principle at work.
I, too, have been given new applications and opportunities to see perseverence at work. My plans always seem good. My prayers seem full of purpose and need. I love the praise and thanksgiving part of praying, but I continue to learn more about how to pray for God's will in persevering in every challenge. My desires are often focused upon the ways I want things to turn out. I rarely see the big picture through to its conclusion in a way that allows God freedom to bring about His best for my life in a manner that brings Him the most glory. But as He grants me more and more patience along with more understanding of His Word, I find that more often I delight in waiting for His direction as I work toward a particular goal. We are to actively wait for His leading. This is part of persevering. We do as much as we can, trusting that He will show us the next step... the next direction...the next changing of the cloud that reminds us that in the grand scheme of things we are not in charge. It is in the letting go of our preconceived image of a certain goal that we are enabled to see with illumined understanding a higher purpose, a better way or ultimately a more lofty end result when not limiting our efforts to what we alone can ask or imagine. At this moment I am just finishing a project that has led me to persevere through various challenges and changes until at last it seems God is saying, well done. In working with my publisher we have learned much about keeping a positive attitude in order to meet printing guidelines. But we are there. I am eagerly awaiting the proof copy of this book that has been a labor of love. I had to get myself and my preconceived images out of the way in order to allow God to lead the project to proceed in a manner that would bring Him the most glory. I got discouraged with myself a couple of times but the Lord would not let me stay there. It is He Who worked the persevering through me for when I am weak, His strength and leading is sufficient to bring about the true desires of my heart which should always align with His purpose for my life.
In the exercise of persevering we must look beyond our limitations, both physical and real, and those we set for ourselves due to what we perceive to be true of ourselves. Instead we must learn to respond according to what we know to be true of God through spending time learning to know Him through His Word. When the way seems blocked from our perspective perhaps we need to glance about and look for another door He may have opened as a means of leading us forward with Him. That is the key thinking. With HIM! Every challenge is an opportunity to grow in our trust of the One Who is sovereign over all things. Every challenge is an opportunity to point others to the faithfulness of God to provide eternal good through every lesson in life. This should bring us to a point of satisfaction in God which in turn brings Him great glory. The peace and joy of this relationship further aligns our purpose in life to be reflected through the manner in which we are blessed to persevere in every trial, temptation, suffering and loss. It should also humble us from ourselves, from that temptation of pride that so often accompanies the perception of success of our own doing.