Perseverance: Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition
Hebrews 12:1-3: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word perseverance is long distance running. Like most of you reading this, I became a runner when I started HC, thanks to the annual half marathon. This past summer, however, I had the chance to run my first full marathon.
I had no hopes of setting a world record. My goal was to simply run the whole 26.2 miles without stopping. Simple. But the lessons learned while training for a marathon never end when it comes to life, or more specifically, ministry. More than anything, though, it teaches you perseverance.
Over four years ago, I had the chance to move to Nuremberg, Germany to serve at a church. Multiple visas, a new language, a few job changes, and a lot of pretzels later, I am still here. The thought of giving up was often there...whether due to the uncertainty of my visa or frustration of not being able to communicate [in German] how I would have liked. But God gave me a deep love for the city and the people, which motivated me to keep trying my best to make it work, and stay.
There was a point though, where I realized I couldn’t keep going. I was exhausted and disappointed due to numerous reasons.
When training for a marathon, you learn quickly that the level of your health is directly related to the distance you can endure. Isn’t following Jesus and ministry the same? Our personal health directly affects our relationships and our service to others. It matters!
This past year has begun a journey of allowing God to do an even deeper work in my life through taking the necessary steps of becoming healthier spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Ultimately, God is more interested in who we are becoming rather than what we can do for Him. The end of this proverbial race isn’t becoming a pastor or leading crowds of people. This “marathon” we are on, begins and ends with the one who created us and called us to Him. We persevere when we are our healthiest selves, and this comes only through communion with Him and others. Our ministry is not the end, but is found in each one of the “miles” we find ourselves on. Literally one step after another.
Obviously, running the marathon was difficult, and required hard work and discipline, but that was no reason not to do it. For whichever “marathon” you are in - get healthy, be gracious with yourself, and run with determination and endurance the race marked out for you.
We don’t have to quit, because we have a Father who doesn’t quit on us.