PERSISTENT PERSONNEL (Olympic Lessons 8) Hebrews 12:1
Roger Bannister was the first American to run a mile in under 4 minutes. He was burnt very badly when trying to start a heater in school. Doctors didn’t think he’d ever walk again, but he persevered and patiently learned to walk, then run until he was the fastest American at in his time. It took patience and faith for him to accomplish what he did. That’s a winning combination for us as well.
Our passage, Hebrews 12:1, starts with “Therefore,” tying it to the previous chapter, Hebrews 11 – the chapter about faith. Patience is based on faith (James 1:2-4). Without faith in God, we won’t patiently wait for Him to act. Patience means moving ahead (“running”), but doing it in faith. That’s how Noah could spend a year building an ark (Hebrews 11:7), Abraham waited years for a son (v. 11), Joseph endure an Egyptian prison (v. 22) and Joshua walk around Jericho for 7 days (v. 30). The opposite of faith is fear. When we are motivated by fear we won’t be patient.
Instead of being impatient, we must trust God with His guidance and leading. We must “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” God has planned the course of each of our lives, and they all differ. He gives us what we need to stretch and grow, and to learn to trust Him through it. Don’t compare your life with others. Your life is what God has chosen for you, no one else. He knows what He is doing. He can be trusted. When we trust Him, we can patiently persevere living the life He has set for us. Noah worked on the ark for over 100 years. David was 15 years old when he was anointed king but didn’t reign over the whole nation for almost 30 years.
Philip Brooks, the well-known hymn writer, was a quiet and poised man. One day he was found pacing the floor in frustration. When asked what was wrong, he replied, “The trouble is that I am in a hurry and God is not.” Who hasn’t felt that way at one time or another? When Abraham didn’t wait patiently for God to act, he took matters into his hands and through Hagar had Ishmael. We still suffer the consequences of that in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Saul offered a sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel and lost the kingship and his life. Moses grew impatient and struck the rock twice, thus forfeiting his opportunity to enter the Promised Land. It can be tempting to run ahead of God and try to make things happen quicker than God wants. It can also be tempting to get discouraged and give up on God when He doesn’t seem to be doing what we want when we want it.
God waits for us, like the father of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:1-11). We need to be patient with others as He is with us. Even harder, we need to be patient with ourselves. That can be the most difficult one of all. We need to learn to patiently persevere in all we do: not quit but not rush ahead of God either.
Dan Jansen, one of the best skaters this country has ever produced, was very close to his sister Jane. She died of leukemia when he was at the 1988 Olympics. He heard of her death just before he skated in the 500-meter race. He was determined to win for her but he fell and didn’t finish. He came back 4 years later in Albertville but didn’t win any medals. Two years later, in Lillehammer, Norway, in the last race of his Olympic career, he won the gold medal. He stood on the victory platform while the National Anthem played and saluted Jane. He never gave up, he persevered and didn’t quit, and he achieved what he was aiming for. “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” (Palm 37:7).
Think of times in the past when you persevered and didn’t quit. What was the result? Is there anything happening in your life now for which you need perseverance? Ask God to help you be persistent in life.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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