Three Kinds of Persistence

17 Feb

TrashCan with HappyFacesHow do you throw away a garbage can?

Now before you laugh at that as absurd, let me (Dawn) share a quick story.

At college, I had a trash can with happy faces on it. It was badly dented and rusted on one side, so I decided it was time to throw it away. I put the can out with other trash behind the girls’ dorm.

But the Trash Man didn’t take it.

The next week, I taped a note to the trash can: “This is actual trash.”

The Trash Man didn’t take it. Again. Perhaps he had not learned to read. The smiley faces, especially on the dented side, seemed to smirk.

Frustrated, I took the trash can and set it in front of the guys’ dorm with a note: “Hey Guys, this is a FREE Trash Can.”

It was gone the next morning.

Thinking back on that now, I’m wondering~ Why didn’t I just put the trash can into a trash bag?That would have saved a lot of hassle!

But the point is, I didn’t give up until I got rid of the broken, rusty trash can.

There’s something to be said for persistence. Persistence is the extra push we give ourselves to do something. We may lack motivation momentarily, but ultimately, we press forward, knowing what we’re supposed to do, or what we want to achieve.

The Bible doesn’t say much about persistence, but what it does say is powerful.

First, there is the persistence that involves discipline ~ the pressing forward toward a goal (Philippians 3:14) by faith. We believe that our efforts are worth the striving (Hebrews 12:1), because God has great things ahead for us (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Second,  there is the persistence that involves expectancy. In Mark 2:2-12, we see some persistent men who got creative in getting their paralyzed friend to Jesus, because they expected Him to do something about the problem. The passage says, “When Jesus saw their faith,” he not only healed the man, but he forgave the man’s sins (which really bugged the watching “teachers of the law”).

The persistence of the men overcame all obstacles. They believed that something good was going to happen, even though circumstances seemed grim, and Jesus honored their expectant faith.

Third, there is the persistence that involves prayer. In this instance of persistence (try saying that three times quickly!) in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus told the story of a importune widow, asking a judge to intervene against her adversary. The judge finally listened to her because she kept pestering him with her request!

Jesus taught that we are to pray until we receive an answer from the Father. The danger is that we might quit praying too soon. God’s answer might be yes, no, or wait, but we can be assured that God hears. My friend Connie prayed for her husband for decades. Now, Connie could never make her husband turn to Christ, though she tried to live an exemplary life. But God did save him. Her husband received the Lord right before he passed into eternity. Connie’s testimony is that she never stopped praying for Him. She was consistent and persistent in prayer.

But don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I know another woman who prayed just as long for her husband ~ a foolish, willful man. In his free will, he stayed stubborn to the end. To our knowledge, he never came to saving grace. Still, my friend  had the release in her spirit before God that she had prayed until the end, and she said the praying transformed her life over the years. The lesson is, persistence is as much for us as for those we seek to help. God honors the persistence of expectant faith and prayer, born in an obedient heart.

So don’t give up, Friend. Practice persistence in a disciplined life, expectant faith, and consistent prayer; and count on God’s strength in the process.

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2 Responses to “Three Kinds of Persistence”

  1. Sharon G. February 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    I had to look up the word “importune” 😉

    This is actually a great reminder for me. Especially the persistence in prayer. I prayed for 5 years for my husband to come to God, which he finally did almost a year ago. It may have happened sooner if I’d prayed more persistently than I did (which was mainly every Sunday morning that God would soften his heart and speak to him through the sermon and like crazy the weekend of the mens’ retreat where he did finally meet God) – of course it may not have, but one never know.. But with some of the trials I’m going through now, some physical issues and job issues for my husband, persistence in my faith is something I need more of.

    I will endeavor to apply these concepts more to my life.

    • Dawn Wilson February 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

      Persistence in prayer is my struggle, too, Sharon. The wonderful thing is, it’s an area we can improve with God’s strength and by His grace! I’m so glad your hubby knows Jesus now!

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