Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4).
That’s what my grandma used to call it. James calls it perseverance, a term that works almost as well. It’s that quality of taking one more step, trying one more time, going one more mile.
You know what I think is really interesting? James names perseverance as the character trait that will make us mature and complete.
Why that quality, apart from the others? It’s not very exciting, not very romantic. There’s really nothing very heroic about it at all.
Which, I think, is precisely why God calls us to it.
I told you that when I was in high school, I ran for the cross country team. Cross country was a fall sport, but it wasn’t the fall sport. That, of course, was football. Football was played by the physical elite, big muscly dudes who went toe-to-toe under the bright lights in a stadium full of people.
Cross country…not so much. We rarely drew crowds, and I never saw a cheerleader. We were the leftovers, guys who weren’t big enough to play football, but still wanted that sweaty locker room experience. There was really only one lesson you had to learn in order to succeed at cross country.
Don’t stop running.
You see, the races were so stinking long. No matter how big or how fast you were, it ultimately came down to who refused to quit. It was not unusual to see a sprinter-type jump out to an early lead, only to falter after half a mile or so. The winners were often skinny little guys who, in the end, just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
I think that’s what God is looking for in us. Sure, he wants us to be strong and wise and smart. What he’s really looking for, however, is the one who will run the race, day or night, hot or cold, rain or shine, when no crowds are there to cheer them on.
Are you that one? Are you willing to run the race that most people never see? Are you willing to keep putting one foot in front of the other, long past the point where you want to give up?
Cause it’s a long race.
If you’re in trials today, Beloved, know that God is using them to teach you good old sticktoitiveness. Hold tight to his hand, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’re in training, and you are going to make it.
By his grace.
For his glory.
Keep running, Beloved.