“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” –Newt Gingrich
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” –Stephen King
I have been taking classes for several years toward my goal of being an ordained minister, and I am nearing the end of the educational requirements to do that. This afternoon as I was doing my homework, I repeatedly had the temptation to complain about the work that I was having to put toward the class. However, God immediately taught me a lesson: Simply being called is not the end of the story, but rather the beginning. The bigger the blessing, the greater the responsibility. The bigger the calling, the greater the challenges are in getting there. God has already done His part. Now it’s my turn to do my part; and not just do it, but do it well.
This weekend God gave me another piece of the puzzle for my future; He inspired my heart toward a passion that I have had since childhood, but had for the most part given up on. I am beginning to understand the scope of what this means. So often we long to receive a word from God, but when the word that comes causes us to embark on a journey of hard work and discipline to see it through, often we either throw it out or put it on the back burner for later. We wait for God to “confirm it”, which sometimes can be an excuse for us to wait to obey God. However, the kind of obedience that God requires of us is an obedience that is immediate and complete.
I want the kind of faith that naturally reacts in obedience to the voice of God. I want to be the kind of person who will do whatever it takes to see it through. After all, faithfulness doesn’t just have to do with saying “yes” to the calling when we first receive it, but rather having a continual “yes” every day afterward until the work is finished. Paul says to his disciple Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” He says earlier in 1:6-7: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and SELF-DISCIPLINE.”
If I were to describe my nature anytime before two years ago, I would say I was a bit flaky. Don’t get me wrong; I loved Jesus and I desired to serve Him. However, my daily devotional times were short at best. I started a lot of projects and did not finish them. That has always been a struggle for me. I would get really excited about something…for a few weeks or even months, but eventually the fire died out and so did my desire to see it through. One of the biggest lessons that God has taught me in this South American experience has been self-discipline. I have much more of a part to play in my calling than I had realized before. God will call us to action, and He will give us the strength to walk it through. However, WE must act and put forth the perseverance to join hands with God and walk with Him through it to the end. Plain and simple.
Sometimes it’s big and sometimes it’s scary. There comes a time in every calling (and often many times) when we want to throw in the towel and give up. However, when we do give up, we miss out on the great blessing that comes from being faithful. We miss the joy of serving God with excellence. The truth is, God knows what we are capable of far more than we do, and He will always push us. Often I have felt challenged beyond my capacity to handle. However, I have learned to trust Him and dive in, and I find that He is always enough. I find that the result was worth the plunge, and my faith grows as I see God be continually faithful in absolutely every circumstance.
It’s like a farmer working the soil. I used to see God as the farmer. However, I realize now that I am the farmer, and it is God who makes things grow. I am called to plant, to work the ground, and to take in the harvest that God brings. So my challenge to you today is: work that ground. Has God given you a word? See it through. Has He given you a talent? Grow on purpose. I guarantee that you don’t want just a portion of the blessing. Go for it all. Give it your all. God bless you today as you continue to seek and act in His will!