Hi, Rob here. Tomorrow I head off to a pastor’s retreat for our movement that has become an annual highlight for me. It’s taken a while for it to become like that. When I was the new kid on the block I was shy and easily intimidated by these experienced leaders, despite their best efforts to make me feel welcome. Another year I got sick and was miserable company. The turning point came for me when I arrived in a state of despondency about my ministry and my own heart. The first night I was sitting with a recently retired pastor of 40 years, a guy I really looked up to as a great leader in our New Zealand context. I said, ‘I just don’t know what I’m doing.” His reply, “None of us do.” Priceless. Implied in his statement, though, was that God knows what he’s doing so trust him. It was what my heart needed to hear. Life came to me that week in the company of humble kings. I have loved this retreat ever since.
I was reflecting with Kiley (beloved wife and companion) that I’m feeling the most comfortable in my own skin that I’ve ever felt. So is she. We’ve been through the heartaches of miscarriage, infertility, a parent dying, marriage counselling and depression, and, no doubt, there will be more heartaches to come. But we’ve also been through the joys of having children, having our marriage strengthened, a new home and most of all, emotional healing and a greater life in Christ. Here’s the point. Whether in my work as a pastor or as a husband and man, I have seen the indescribable value of perseverance – hanging in there in the name of Jesus.
I’ve also discovered that perseverance isn’t passive. It is constantly seeking God’s help in making the next right choice. It is continually offering up all our heartache, shortcomings and pride to Jesus at his cross. It is choosing to confess, worship, pray, open the word, go to pastor’s retreats, seek counselling, love, engage and surrender self, as often as God would have us do it. Passivity in the Christian life is choosing to hide from God. It is easier to lead a moving object so we have to take action. Prayer is our first and most important one. I look at prayer these days as presentation – I present myself before the throne of grace and let God do his work in me. I know I still need to present myself more often.
Of course, I have learned these things by making an enormous number of mistakes and surrendering to passivity far too often. I still do at times but Jesus is helping me to become aware of it and do something about it. I noticed myself withdrawing the other day and Kiley hadn’t. That’s progress! But how do we persevere in persevering? It comes, I believe, from being fully persuaded in our hearts and minds that following Jesus as Lord is the only life worth living. So, we ask God to help us be fully persuaded and more so every day.
Here’s the thing. The Holy Spirit is on our side. He wants us to know the heart of God and have the life of Jesus flowing through our veins. He wants to deal with all the obstacles and heal all the wounds. He wants us to be free in Christ, alive in Christ and to be filled with his joy. So hang in there, in Jesus’ name, in his mighty strength, held tenderly by his love, and see his life come into yours.