Category Archives: Perseverance

Perseverance – makes the hardest task possible

Success possible from…not easy.  Achievable…but only through painful toil.

As emigrant trains stretched out for miles along the Oregon Trail, memories of what they left behind may have grown attractive.  The hard facts of daily travel, coupled with uncertain troubles ahead, certainly tormented their journey.

They found meadows when they reached the confluence of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers, near their eponymous Forts.  In them they rested, let livestock graze and…wanted to linger.  To be abused after only two days by their Captains.  “Up and at ‘em,” they shouted.  Dr. Marcus Whitman, having survived the previous journey to Oregon, knew that only “travel, travel, travel…” led to the end of their journey.  Groaning in despair, they complied.  Leaving behind what offered rest but no goal, they returned to daily toil that guaranteed hardship but brought their goal within reach.  By the effort of 15-20 miles a day, the 2000 miles between Independence, Missouri and Oregon or California could be spanned  between April and October.  But only by daily travel.  Woe to those who lingered or sought a short-cut. Westward Vision, 374-375.

Any career, relationship or endeavor yields to repetitious regularity.  We may need a rest after so much effort expended.  We may take a rest, an appropriate and symbolic  “two days”, to re-gather our strength.  But we dare not stop for long.  Continue, continue, continue what brings the promise of completion.  Don’t settle for ease that offers repose but no fulfillment at the end.

Speaking of which:  the Christian life can whirl from being difficult, to hard, to impossible.  But at the end Glorious and Ecstatic.  The unsaved life is easier, broader, tolerant.  But at the end…well, nothing you want to be or possess!

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Perseverance – often the essence of success

President Lincoln wrote letters of encouragement to two young people.  One went to a friend of his son Robert, who failed to pass his entrance exam to Harvard.  (Put among Things That Never Change being able to go to a “smart-set” school.)  Among other points of encouragement, the President said:  he could still gain entrance to Harvard; he couldn’t let failure prey on him; he must intend not to fail as the means of succeeding.  To a cadet at West Point, the son of a cousin of Mary Lincoln, he encouraged him to “adhere to your purpose” and he would soon feel as good as ever.  If he instead faltered he could find it a permanent problem in persevering in any resolution.  War Years II, 267

Every disciple committed to developing Christ-likeness faces the same struggle.  How can it be done, when past and present efforts haven’t yet achieved it?  And how can we ever reach a point where we can honestly claim we have achieved it?

Consider three perspectives.

First, and the basis of all discipleship, God demands improvement of our forgiven life.  We don’t give an account for our sins. Jesus has removed them from our record.  We must upgrade all aspects of our personal life:  attitudes, habits, behavior, beliefs.  We have no say about our spiritual gift package.  We have the definitive decision about using the package once we open it.

Second, discipleship-life is a journey more than a destination; more a search than a particular conquest.    The more opportunities seized and employed as we travel, the more certainly we’ll arrive at our destination with greater Christ-likeness.

Third, if we refuse to surrender our goal in discipleship, that very commitment is success.  Consider the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:12-14.  He considered pursuit of his goal, not achieving it, the essence of success.  He declared his intention to:  know Christ; the power of his resurrection; the fellowship of his sharing in his sufferings; becoming like him in his death; and somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Yet, he considered himself a pilgrim seeking and maturing in these great purposes.  He never considered he had achieved them.

So must we say.  Trying to be like Jesus is our greatest challenge.  Succeeding only incrementally thrills us.  Failing to any degree diminishes us.  But only pursuing Jesus Christ gives us a sense of advancing the behinder we get.  Every day let us offer Praise to God as the expression of a glad heart; and Prayer to God as the expression of a needy heart; and Submission to God as the expression of a surrendered heart.