Being a kiwi, I obviously would support NZ teams. The Black Caps weren’t faring all that great in cricket but I admired their perseverance without quitting, which in itself is success. One particular humanitarian act by means of helping up an injured player of the opposing team cost them the match. As far as I’m concerned, that is what true sportsmanship is all about. The value on human beings meant more than an award. They kept persevering. Within the same cricket tour, they impressively won the second test match against Sri Lanka. Go kiwis go. In the midst of all of this, I got to have dinner with part of the team as well as coach Mike. What a privilege! yup, they are indeed a good looking bunch i must say!
Despite all the odds, these guys persevered. Standing firm and competing itself is where success lies. The walk of the believer is no different. there will be plenty of obstacles – the prowling enemy seeking to devour, the ways of the world and not to forget the work of our own flesh. There will be many times, more often than not perhaps, when there only seems to be failures and no awards. Nonetheless, we continue to love God with all what we have, we love our neighbours as ourselves and even love our enemies. It may cost us precious time, career advancement, passing exams, wealth or even reputation. Yet we persevere because God places importance on relationships over everything else. We humble ourselves and serve one another in love as we are called to do so. We may be taken for granted but nonetheless we obey God. The path may often seem bleak and purposeless, it seems as if we are wasting time and energy while others around us are achieving so much. yet we run the race.
The Ephesus and Thyatira churches were commended for their perseverance. However, what shook me was the fact that despite Ephesus having persevered, endured hardships for His Name and not growing weary, it was rebuked for having forsaken its first love (Revelation 2:3-4). We need to persevere yet without forsaking our first love. In fact Thyatira was also commended for doing more than what they did at first (2:19) yet they were rebuked for having side tracked in their doctrine.
I was pondering on how it is even possible to persevere while forsaking our first love. How many of us have experienced this scenario with our relationships on earth? We meet a guy… sparks fly… we hit it off… and become an ‘item’. Not long after do we take each other for granted. We go with the flow but we don’t make the effort to go the extra mile, to make time for each other in our busy schedules the way we used to at the onset of the relationship. Without realising it, the relationship suffers as other priorities take over…. Yet the relationship continues, without the potential momentum.
Likewise with our walk with God. Often we can even persevere in the rat race of ministry and turn it into a ‘showcase’, boasting of our works for God…. while neglecting our relationship with Him. When we lose our first love for Him, relationships around us suffer. We then don’t have patience with others…. we perhaps ostracize or reject or label others. Being humble or being gracious or an attitude of servitude gets lost along the way and it becomes all about ME and MY RACE. So many churches have much turn over in their congregation because the focus gets shifted on to what they are doing, what their goals are and to achieve their missions and visions and what not. Yet at the end of the day, when our relationship with God is a healthy one, love for others will pour out – not for show but sincerely and often with a cost.
Even if it seems meaningless, even in the midst of trials or suffering, we need to not just hang in there, but keep at it – keep taking up our cross daily! “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11).
No matter what the cost our rewards wait for us in heaven. Earthly rewards have no value at the end of the day as they will perish…. Yet we gain the most valuable thing ever – intimacy with God.
What does your path look like right now? Which season are you walking through? Is it summer where the sun shines brightly with fragrant flowers in bloom and the birds chirping? Or is it autumn where the leaves are covering the ground with trees not totally naked? Or is it winter where life seems lifeless…. where one plods along? Or is it spring showing off marks of life, promising the arrival of summer in full swing?
Wherever you are, remember to keep at it, the next season will come. It’s not always fruitful, may seem lifeless even – but blessed are you if you keep at it by the strength of the Lord.