Friday, April 29, 2016

on impatience and perseverance...

One thing that I have learned to be true about Jesus? He is not subtle. When Jesus wants you to do something or learn something, you know. And lately, I know.
At the beginning of this month, I read Annie Downs new book, "Looking for Lovely". I may or may not have finished it in two days and everyone needs it in their personal library. Please go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy right now. She speaks A LOT into the idea of what perseverance looks like in her life, emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. She even got a tattoo (which is not happening for me because I am indecisive and hate all kinds of pain). 

This year, I studied through Acts with a group of women at my church. Paul and the early church knew what it meant to persevere in every sense of the word. 

Twenty one days ago, I started Whole 30 and running (again), which, enough said.

For the next few months, my church is making our way through 1 & 2 Thessalonians. This past Sunday, we were encouraged in the way of perseverance. 

Are all these things a coincidence? Absolutely not. Jesus is purposeful and intentional and answering big heart prayers. My theme this year is cultivate, and He is doing just that, building parts of my faith that I didn't really know existed, strengthening parts of it that already do. Perseverance seems grueling and exhausting; the connotation seems negative. We tell people to persevere when they are weak and hurt and amidst a trial, but what about persevering through normal things? Like maybe young motherhood, singleness, a mediocre job, financial problems, the last semester of high school, a transition in ministry, or cleaning your house after a long day of work? Is perseverance only reserved for the hard seasons in life? 

...underneath the normal is the hum of God doing the unseen, 
and to see that, we must keep going.

Right now, my life is not hard. My money is spent on normal adult things, morning coffee, and the occasional adventure or new dress. My time is spent with people I love and who make me laugh and remind me of truth. My relationship with God is good and abundant. And still, there is this quiet whisper underneath all of these studies and sermons and seasons... "Keep going." Sometimes we need that for our everyday, run-of-the-mill lives because underneath the normal is the hum of God doing the unseen, and to see that, we must keep going (because I don't know about you, but I want to see that stuff, the stuff that Jesus is working on underneath it all).

Perseverance is good and necessary regardless of your season or status because it's a means of sanctification. He uses it to make us more like Him, to mold us into strong, loving, gracious, truthful people. Because we don't know what the middle of the story holds and we don't know how the story finishes, but we do know the God who does. We persevere because we know Him. 

The opposite of impatience is not patience, it is perseverance...

And recently, my heart has been so impatient and full of questions and wonder. I sat in my chair a few weeks ago, letting the truth of Scripture wash over me, contemplating the lives of the early church, and it struck me... The opposite of patience is not impatience, it is perseverance. When I focus on being patient, I feel stuck and trapped, but when I focus on perseverance, I feel hopeful and aware of what God is teaching me. Patience is birthed out of places of frustration, perseverance is birthed out of places of focus. For me, patience is seen as the last straw, almost like a coping mechanism for when my personal desires are not met. Maybe the goal isn't to become patient, but to build up endurance, to persevere. 

God never calls us to begin, He calls us to finish and to finish well, and by His grace that is actually possible. Perseverance is good. For the student turning in their last assignment of the semester, perseverance is good. For the man who is waiting until marriage and fighting the temptation of pornography, perseverance is good. For the woman wanting a husband or babies or grand babies, perseverance is good. For the new mom who is washing milky bottles instead of washing her hair, perseverance is good. For the person who is interviewing for job after job and facing rejection, perseverance is good.

And so, we persevere, I persevere, because He who calls us is faithful and will give us the grace to endure and to finish. 

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