You’re climbing a mountain. The path is long and steep. The peak is not visible; however, you are certain this trail leads to it. The distance between your current position and the mountaintop is unknown. Lunch was some hours ago and you’re a bit hungry. In your pack are only two granola bars and a liter of water. You had not anticipated the steepness or length of the hike, hence the potentially inadequate supplies. Your favorite travel websites failed to alert you to the rocky nature of the trail. You regret the morning’s choice to wear flip-flops. Your iPhone died – no more GPS.
You have a guidebook in your pocket. It includes a short summary of this “TOP 10” trail, frustratingly lacking in detail. The copyright inside the cover of the small book is a decade ago and its accuracy is definitely in question.
Is the climb worth it? CAN you make it? Is it wiser to turn back?
A quick drink of water refreshes you. The bottle is returned to the backpack. You turn uphill with renewed energy. Your left foot lands on a loose rock and instantly you’re down on the trail, searing pain shoots up your leg! You gingerly slide off the flip-flop. The foot looks ok, there is a bluish hue to the skin on the outside of the ankle. It hurts to touch and is starting to swell. The movement of the ankle is painful, but intact.
What does it mean to persevere?
There is a path, a direction. There are obstacles, challenges. There is some question of the possibility of success.
You cannot persevere if you are not going anywhere. The path is not necessarily geographic. Your direction could be to learn something, to develop yourself, to grow in faith. If there is no direction, if there is no goal, there can be no perseverance.
You cannot persevere if there are no obstacles. A ball does not persevere in rolling downhill. You do not persevere to fritter away four hours on YouTube. Super Hero movies need super villains. If there is no imaginable possibility of failure, there will be no struggle, no heroic perseverance.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to lay aside every weight and sin which so easily clings to us. Run with perseverance (endurance, patience) the race set before you.
Take off your ankle weights. Leave them on the trail. Like lint, sin clings to us to so easily. Check yourself all over, clean it off. Your race isn’t my race. You are called to run YOUR race. We have a direction, we gaze upward toward the author and finisher (perfecter) of our faith – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the template of heroic perseverance. He climbed Mount Calvary, enduring the suffering and shame. He is victorious, seated at the right hand of the Father, in glory.
Climb the mountain. Keep gazing upward. It’s worth it. Trust the guidebook. Put one foot in front of the other. Persevere!