Monday, May 16, 2011

The Power In Perseverance

From my desk in my office at home, I can look out the window and I can see almost my entire back yard. I've sat at my desk and looked out this window dozens-if not hundreds- of times before, but something today caught my eye.

Last year, I blocked off an area in the right rear corner of the yard with chicken wire to keep my dog, Bailey, out of it. He loves to run and play in the back yard, but this was somewhere I'd rather he didn't tread. Anyway, inside this 20'x20' space I grew all different herbs, spices, peppers and melons. I grew Habanero Peppers, Basil, Oregano, Blackberries, Blueberries, and even the sweet Spanish Chayote. However, the fact of the matter is that last spring and summer here in Florida was exceptionally hot. We even broke hundred year old records for the longest consecutive heat waves and going the most days without rain fall. Summer was so brutal that in reality, few plants had a fighting chance at survival through the summer, let alone to regenerate this year. The conditions were simply not right for growth. So, after all the plants were done producing, we tore the wire fence down and relinquished the corner back into Bailey's control.

However, today as I sat down at my desk and opened my blinds, I looked out to the old garden (of which I admittedly have done nothing to this season), and see a couple of plants beginning to sprout up. I was stunned because I was certain that everything would have to be replanted after such an unforgiving summer, and the winter snaps. I guess I just underestimated the persistence of these plants. 

There's a certain wonderful mystery in perseverance. It is essentially the inability to give up. The very word of perseverance means the steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose, despite opposition or discouragement. God gave us the first example of perseverance by not destroying man after their disobedience in the Garden of Eden (Genesis Ch. 3).

Perseverance was shown when Joshua's troops marched around the city of Jericho wielding trumpets instead of swords. Surely they must've been thinking Joshua was sending them out on a suicide mission (Joshua 6:1-27). But, they marched on anyway and by quitting time on the 8th day, Jericho had fallen.

Perseverance was shown when Naaman dipped 7 times into the filthy River Jordan in order to come out clean. Weren't the rivers back home cleaner and more likely to do the trick (2 Kings 5:1-19)? But Naaman dipped into the River Jordan anyway, and found the proverbial 'Fountain of Youth'.

Perseverance is Job not saying, "Yes, Dear" to make his wife happy by "just cursing God and dying" (Job  2:9). Instead, Job scraped the boils off, had a conversation with God, and rebuilt his life bigger than before.

Just as there is wonder in this plant that's growing for a second season, there's wonder in all of God's creation. The Church which Christ built, the Church of Christ, is no exception. There is a wonderful purpose in Christ creating His church. We as Christians, like this plant, have the odds stacked against us. However, just as the plant is able to get enough nutrients, food, and water from the surrounding soil to persevere and grow, we too get enough spiritual nourishment from the church to continue our growth. Make no mistake, Christ created His church in part so that His followers can count on, and rely on each other to stay faithful (Hebrews 10:25).

Just as sure as the tide goes in and out, you can believe that you and I will stumble and get discouraged in our daily walk with Christ. And it won't happen just once. It will be a lifetime of sore knees and bruised egos. The question is whether you're going to go at it alone, or if you're going to allow others to pick you up and dust you off?

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