Recently we had a family vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was a great time, despite the record heat all over the Southeast. We played miniature golf, we went to the campground pool, we went to Pirate’s Voyage dinner and show, we went to a museum of cars from “yesteryear” (that is another word for “when Grammy was young!”). And, we went to Radical Ropes Adventure Park, a ropes course that had multiple levels of ropes, zip lines, etc. It was an awesome facility.
All of the members in our son’s family had done ropes courses before and this one looked like a great deal of fun. But, our daughter’s son, who was traveling with us and was the youngest in the group, had not been on a ropes course and he was not at all sure about this venture. He was, shall we say, a reluctant participant!
The personnel were detailed in getting the participants suited up with harnesses and hooks and clamps, helmets and gloves, and all were enthusiastic about the endeavor, except for the youngest grandson. He was not so sure, even when the practice run was just inches above the ground, there was an instructor at his shoulder, and his Aunt was going to go on the course with him.
After significant encouragement, he persevered and participated while letting us know that he was not excited about it at all. The adults in the group knew that this would be a growing experience for him – he would be safe with all the safety equipment and with multiple family members surrounding him, he would be on the lowest course so no fall would prove injurious even if the safety equipment failed, and he had a built in cheering section standing under the course and documenting his efforts so his parents could see his prowess!
The first couple of obstacles were met with scowls and an expression that said “I don’t like this but I’ll do it because you want me to!”
However, after recognizing that he could accomplish these tasks, even though they were hard and it took struggle, a transformation occurred in his expression and his enthusiasm. He still had to work hard to walk the line and overcome the barriers that were strategically placed, but his eyebrows were no longer “angry eyebrows” and there was a smile on his face that said “I’m doing it – look at me! I am going to conquer this thing!”
At the end, he was tired, but he had the grin of satisfaction glued to his face. He had done something that he had been afraid of – he conquered his fear and had more self-confidence as a result. He persevered and completed the hard task.
Perseverance. It seems as though that is a theme for recent blogs on The Ruminant Scribe, but I believe the Lord is leading in that way for some reason. [Most likely it is because I need the lessons that I write, much more than the readers do!]
The Lord said that we would have persecutions and problems, difficulties and trials throughout our Christian lives as His disciples. Some even say that if you are not experiencing persecution because of your faith, perhaps your faith is hidden from the world! Bring it out in the open and the persecution will come!
Jesus promised persecution to those who believe in His name.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”
Persecution of the righteous is foretold in Jesus “Sermon on the Mount”:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
In Ephesians chapter 6, Paul is encouraging the Ephesian believers to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. And, even though he is in prison in chains because of his preaching about Jesus, he exhorts the people to persevere and to pray for all the saints, including him. Notice that Paul provides a description of the weapons we have at our disposal through the Holy Spirit so that we can persevere and withstand the trials that will come our way.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
I certainly am not equating the ropes course at Myrtle Beach to anything that “the evil one” would send our way [although possibly our young grandson felt this way at the beginning!]. We did not expect him to tackle the highest ropes course the first time he ever tried to do such an event.
While undertaking the lowest course was something that was way beyond his comfort zone, it was also something that we had confidence he could handle. He had his own personal cheering section for support, and it was a growing experience for him. In short, it was a building block in his self-confidence for tasks far more important than just an adventure ropes course. [In this picture he was waiting for his Aunt to cross the obstacle – notice his crossed legs, a position telegraphing “I’ve got this!”]
The same is true in our spiritual life. The Church is our cheering section in heaven and the local Church is our cheering section on earth, while the Spirit is our power from within. Persevering in one endeavor is but one of many steps in our maturing so that we can persevere in each successive task that God presents to us, some of which may strike at the point of our most significant fear.
Praise God that He is willing to lead us so that we grow, progressively, into the image of His Son. Praise His Name that He guides us through our spiritual infancy into spiritual maturity as we bask in His love, rely on His Spirit to guide us, and look to do His will in our world. Praise the Lord that He has promised His grace and support as we go through difficult times.
Father, thank You for your presence with us, even in difficult times. Thank You for your Spirit who undergirds us with His power and strength as we learn to walk in faith and love for Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.