A constant theme in any endeavor is that of persisting and holding on to your goal. Whether you’re seeking a college degree, a job promotion, expanded business goals, raising children, or keeping your faith in a chaotic and increasingly faithless world, persistence is a key element in that process. We think of Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “Never, never give up!” We’re reminded of Thomas Edison who made 1,000 attempts before succeeding in developing a working electric light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Babe Ruth became famous for his 714 home runs despite the 1,330 times he struck out at the plate. He remarked that each strike out led him closer to his next home run. Vince Lombardi wrote, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”
That’s good advice for each of us too. Someone wrote, “I can’t brag about my love for God because I fail him daily. But I can brag about God’s love for me because it never fails!” We fail often in demonstrating perfect love, but we keep on loving. Our faith is too often betrayed by our thoughts and actions, but we keep on believing!
In God’s love letter to us (the bible) we are continually reminded to “Be Strong.” Knowing that we humans have a tendency toward fear, he reminds us 365 times, “Be not afraid!” Repeatedly, we’re told to “encourage one another.” I’m convinced this is one of the primary reasons God left us on earth after we were saved….to encourage one another.
These are the messages of 2 Thessalonians 2. Paul warns believers against falling for the false teachings that strayed from biblical truth. “Stand firm and hold on to the teachings we passed on to you. Encourage one another.”
It’s such a vital message to each of us and others on our path. But may I ask you, “What are you doing to hold on to your faith?” What habits are becoming increasingly ingrained into the fabric of your daily life?
– My mom starts with an affirmation prayer to God: “THIS is the day you have made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!” Even if it’s a terrible, no good, horrible Monday, I will rejoice in my faithful God who never ever abandons me.
– We could start by humbly confessing our weakness and ask for an increased sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives. Have you ever invited God to purposefully interrupt your scheduled plans for the day? This hard step makes us available to the opportunities he wants us to seize.
– Devote your daily transition times to remembering God’s goodness. Those are the moments between one activity and another: between getting up and going to work, between chores or appointments, or the travel time between one place and another. Using the multiple transition times in your day keeps your relationship with God alive and practical.
– A dear friend of mine keeps a Thankfulness Journal, recording every day the things for which she is grateful, despite the pain and suffering that also come her way.
– Taking time to bow your head before each meal and acknowledge God’s goodness is a way of holding onto your faith. My friend Willy Neudahl taught me to invite our waitress when they bring the food: “We’re going to give thanks for our meal. Is there anything we can pray specifically for you?” Whether or not they accept, you can pause and give thanks for their service and ask God’s leading and blessing in their life.
Hold on. Press on. Never give up. It’s not the number of times we fall but the number of times we get back up and turn again to Jesus that keeps us on the right path.
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14