Summary: God is calling us to a relationship with Him but a relationship means nothing without perseverance. Where do we find the strength to carry on through hard times?
5. Spiritual Disciplines Series
May 17th, 2009
A man is traveling down a long dirt road when he meets a guru. The man asks the guru, "Which way is success?" The bearded sage did not say anything but pointed to a place off in the distance. The man was thrilled by the prospect of quick and easy success, so he rushed off in the appropriate direction. Suddenly, there was a loud "Splat!!!" Eventually, the man limped back, tattered and stunned, assuming he must have misinterpreted the message. He repeated his question to the guru, who again pointed silently in the same direction. The man obediently walked off once more. This time the splat is deafening, and when the man crawled back, he was bloody, broken, tattered, and irate. "I asked you which way is success," he screamed at the guru. "I followed your direction. And all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing! Answer me!" Finally the guru spoke: "Success is that way. Just past the splat." The man would have reached his desired goal if he had pressed on through the trials.
What a great lesson. Success comes through perseverance. Consider this: there was a man whose life was characterized by failure. At the age of 22 his business failed. At 23 he ran for Legislature but was defeated. So he turned to another business which failed when he was 24. At 25 things started to turn around when he was elected to Legislature but at 26 his love died. He had a nervous breakdown at 27 was defeated in his run for speaker at 29. He was defeated at 31 when he ran for elector, he lost in his run for congress at 34 but then managed to win at 37. He was defeated in his reelection for congress in 39, he was defeated in his run for senate at 46, he was defeated in his run for vice president at 47, he was defeated for his run for senate at 49. This man was stubborn as a mule but not a winning mule. He was defeated over and over and over again until at the age of 51 he was elected president of the United States. In fact he would become one of the greatest presidents in our country’s history. He is Abraham Lincoln. He endured through the hardships, the trials, the defeats, the rejections, and the failures. Until one day he became our commander in chief. That is the power of perseverance. It is vital for success. It is important in our daily lives. More significantly it is essential for our Spiritual lives. We need perseverance but how do we do that? Where do we find the strength to carry on through hard times?
Perseverance is an important part of our Spiritual lives. Being that we are told to expect hardships and persecution as a result of our relationship with Christ we need to be ready. We were not promised this life would be easy we are promised hardships. Life has storms. The Christian life isn’t about a blissful problem free existence but a better way of living in relationship with God. A relationship does not mean anything unless it endures trials and hardships. A few years ago I had a good friend. I considered him to be one of my best friends. We spent a lot of time together. We shared some good times. I thought that he would be one of the friends I would have for the rest of my life. Then we hit a small bump in the road and lost touch. Our friendship had been tossed out over some pretty insignificant issues. When hardships came along the friendship went away and I learned that it wasn’t the friendship I had thought it was because it couldn’t endure. It didn’t have the strength to carry on through hard times.
If you look at happy, healthy marriages what you are likely to find is not that these people managed to avoid all trials in their lives or even that they experienced less hardships than most. What you will likely find is that they were committed to enduring no matter what. The strength and love that you see is a result of them undergoing hard times together and making it through to the other side. God doesn’t desire a petty shallow relationship with us. He wants intimacy. He wants unity. For that to occur we have to be committed to turn to Him in the hard times. To stay true in our relationship with Him no matter life throws at us. Just as a relationship with a person means very little if it cannot survive trials so to a relationship with God means very little if it cannot endure hardships. Where do we find the strength to carry on through hard times?