(I feel I should offer this as a reminder for all of us… Perhaps someone out there can use the encouragement!)
I just heard a message that had as one of its points the importance of perseverance. Pastor Troy used as an example that, sometimes, the thought of running for many miles can seem daunting. But, when you focus on finishing only the lap you happen to be on, suddenly you find you can accomplish far more than you thought.
Which made me think of many times in my life when I absolutely did not have any strength left… I remember when I was 19, working with an NGO and living on a ship – collapsing on the very small bathroom floor and crying from exhaustion, thinking I simply couldn’t go on… then having to get up and go on. Times in ballet class with my legs drained and trembling, ready to betray me – and somehow my brain forcing them just a little higher, just a little longer… Emotional challenges our family has had to face, where it seemed one day more – even one hour more – was too long to endure.
Philippians 3:6,10 & 14 have one particular Greek word in common: in vs. 6 it’s translated “persecute,” vs. 10 “follow after,” and vs. 14 “press” toward. The word in essence means “to pursue.” Paul says (my paraphrase), “forgetting what lies behind, I am reaching toward the future… I aggressively pursue… my greater vocation…”
Don’t stop pursuing your greater vocation… your higher calling. Sometimes that pursuit is painful – a young person I was talking to commented on the need for people to know how to make tough decisions despite the personal pain they may cause. She inspired me. Sometimes that pursuit is scary – as with little crippled Much Afraid, in Hind’s Feet on High Places, the family of Fearings will attack and try to make us turn back with whispers and lies. Like Much Afraid, we will find that the Shepherd gives us the strength we need if only we ask.
I once heard Luis Palau ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” His answer – “One bite at a time.” If you are tempted to give up, just make it this one hour longer, and then the next, and the next… You will find your hours turn into days, then weeks… and before you know it, you will not only have endured, you will have overcome! You will be stronger, and you will be able to turn and extend your arms, to help fellow pilgrims pursue their greater vocations.