Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1: 2-8 (emphasis added)
Let perseverance finish its work …
I’ve always lived on one side of perseverance. I was doing the work. Striving to accomplish the never ending list of to do’s. Seeming to face a constant uphill battle. It was me agains the world, me against the list, me against the circumstance. I know I missed the point.
It wasn’t about me persevering at all. The persevering was doing the work. It was refining my character. It was lopping off the jagged corners and applying sand paper to the rough edges. By going through the experience, I wasn’t meant to be the same. I was supposed to look different. I was supposed to have a different perspective and outlook. Until that happens or has happened, perseverance isn’t done.
Is perseverance ever finished? There are so many parts of my mind and heart that require change and attention. So many parts that have not come into alignment and conformity to the Spirit. His work can only be truly finished when Jesus’ eyes gaze physically into mine. Until then, I should expect and even relish the crack of the hammer, the pain of the nail, the rasp of the chisel, and the scrape of the sandpaper.
But do I? No, I don’t. I hate the pain portion. It hurts. I don’t ‘heal’ fast. I sometimes don’t ‘heal’ at all. Sometimes, the wounds of my character development seem so deep and large that they couldn’t ever scab over and make new skin. The change hurts. It reveals new flaws and wounds that require attention. Places for more growth are revealed.
But do I let perseverance work? Sometimes. Usually when I think the turnaround will be quick. It usually isn’t and then I’m in for a narrow path, winding road journey that reminds me that I am not in control. If I give myself over to the experience, I learn. But sometimes my inner two year old is revealed. I stamp my feet in frustration insisting my way is better. It isn’t. It never is.
And when I finally give up and let perseverance guide the plan and plot the course, not only does my outlook change but my heart can then deal with the change, the frustration or stress. Because then, regardless of the grade of the climb, I am not alone. I am accompanied by the One who persevered to a cross scorning its shame. I am beckoned forward to the mercy seat where my laid bare heart is given time to mend. Where my tears are dried by loving hands. Where I am restored and refreshed to the newness perseverance wanted for me all along. Perseverance looks, sounds and feels a lot like my Jesus!