Persevere Like Your Life Depends On It

It took me a long time to decide how to approach the topic of perseverance. It’s kind of a soapbox issue for me. I have so much experience proving its worth that it’s hard to know where to start the discussion. But recently, God reminded me of what seemed at the time an insignificant detail, a Bible verse that I hadn’t thought of or read in years:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  Matthew 7:13-14

If that sounds ominous, I think you are understanding the weight of perseverance. On this narrow path, there are so many cut-throughs to other, much easier roads that are well traveled by friends and family. There are so many places to stop a while… and rest… and drift off to sleep. There are places where you recognize what’s up ahead, and you want more than anything to turn around to avoid it.This was the theme verse on my Tres Dias weekend, which I attended in September of 2012. I had just moved to Birmingham, and a new friend, who is now agreat friend, invited me to experience one of the sweetest three days of my life. Tres Dias is a retreat hosted by inter-denominational chapters around the world. It emphasises the very basics of Christian faith, but the impact is far from “basic”.

I was reminded of this verse at, of all places, an all-day work meeting. It was on a bookmark I had received on that weekend in September 2012, and I had absent-mindedly put in a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which I had found in my desk when I moved to Birmingham and started my job. I just noticed it again when I pulled it out for the meeting last week.

There are lots of other verses that discuss perseverance more directly than Matthew 7:13-14, but what strikes me is the payoff this verse iluminates: no less than LIFE itself. And this desire for life, specifically the abundant life Christ promises, is what has drawn me forward, deeper and deeper. And I should clarify, I don’t mean only when I die, though that will be the ultimate fulfillment. This life is for now, too! If that sounds like hedonism, I think I’m being misunderstood!

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  Matthew 16:25

I wonder soberly what that might mean for me. I don’t take “loses his life” to mean martyrdom necessarily, though it is in the context of Jesus telling his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and “suffer many things.” “Loses his life” could mean abandoning the life I know, am comfortable with, that is fulfilling on some level, and taking a leap into the unknown! Or what is more likely, just knowing myself, having to take things slowly and live an outwardly more conventional life. A little piece of me died just writing that!

Time will tell. I’ll see you on the narrow road.

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IMG_7616Joni Butler has called the ‘Ham home since 2012. Officially, she’s here for employment but has found a home here at Breath. Though an avid diarist for years, this is her first writing gig. Jesus is her best friend and she loves pursuing Him passionately.  You can read more about Joni in her Breath Bio. 

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