I was in a movie theater when God spoke to me. My daughter and I were watching Brother Bear. My thoughts were somewhere between slightly bored with this kids movie and feeling like a good mom for bringing her anyway.
The character on the screen, if I remember correctly, was on some kind of vision quest. He was seeking an animal spirit guide. Suddenly God broke in. He told me I had a Spirit guide – a Holy Spirit guide. It’s called Perseverance.
The thing is, I’m a natural-born quitter. I’ve never been very good at finishing things. I can start with gusto but my feet get heavy along the way.
I began persevering. I’m not talking about spiritual disciplines like reading the bible or some meaningful contribution to the world that will impact generations. I’m talking about doing the dishes. Again. Folding the laundry after I washed it. Not yelling when I feel angry. Smiling when I see my kids no matter how I feel.
This went on for a while. Then on New Year’s Eve I upped the stakes. Instead of making any new resolutions I asked God to show me how to persevere in things He had already taught me. I wanted to master the basics. Basics like “love people well” and “stay married.”
Brother Bear came out in 2003 so I’ve been persevering for a while. Sometimes it felt like perseverance was the only goal. Do the next thing. Do it faithfully.
Slowly a surprising concept unfolded.
Perseverance is a path not a destination. It leads to joy. Joy in the form of God’s love poured out into our hearts. The Bible says it like this,
“…we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Ro 5:4-5 NIV
“let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4 NIV
Because of the nature of perseverance it takes a while for it to finish its work. Let it. What’s perseverance wanting to finish in you?
God is at work in us while we make all these tiny choices day after day. He can give us the will to work out our salvation.
Part of me wishes I could show everybody a shortcut to lasting peace, love, and joy. Of course God gives these things as gifts to His children. He gives them simply because He loves to give and not because of anything we have or haven’t done.
On this path of persevering a settled peace permeates my soul. I’m giving God something to work with day by day. He’s changing my heart. There’s room for joy.
So do the next thing Do it faithfully. See where it leads you.