During this summer break I’ve learned more about practical perseverance than I feel I’ve ever known before. Why? Well, in short, as soon my son turned two and half, it seems he found the ‘terrible twos’ button and pressed it hard! My oh my. I’d read about this stage in books; the tantrums, yelling, irrational behaviours etc, but had thought we’d already kinda covered that and I *thought* I had it nailed (ha!). Oh boy was I wrong. I can tell you I’ve cried in quiet corners more than I care to admit recently and have been driven to my knees telling God ‘I just don’t think I can do this anymore!’. The intense screaming and general craziness have made parenting with grace and consistent love a daily test in perseverance. I want to share some of what God has been teaching me.
We’ve already looked at a key passage in understanding godly perseverance; Hebrews 12 v 1-3 compares life to a race that must be run with endurance, with our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus. I quickly realised my eyes had been looking in the wrong direction; at me and my problem…not feeling capable of parenting my boy successfully. Yet I struggled to change the direction of my eyes, despite praying for help. And then I read a timely blog post a friend had put on Facebook (http://www.jenniferphillipsblog.com/2017/07/when-your-kids-wont-bow-to-your-idols.html) and was immediately convicted. I had made an idol of being the perfectly in-control mother of an obedient child. My heart squeezed as I realised I was struggling to persevere with godly parenting because my son would not bow to my idol. I could suddenly see how I was also taking the credit for his good behaviour rather than giving God the glory, and indulging in pride when falling into the comparison trap.
How often idolatry and pride cause us to stumble as we ‘run the race’! But what should we do about it once the Holy Spirit has convicted us? The author of the blog neatly gives three steps in her follow-up post; repent, believe and fight. Not just as a one off but as a moment-by-moment call to perseverance in godly living. We need to repent of loving something more than we love God, believe Him when He says we are forgiven and eternally loved by Him, and then ‘fight like crazy to walk in obedience to the calling he has given’. Peter writes in his letter to the early church that perseverance is one of the qualities we should be developing to supplement our faith (2 Peter 1 v 5-8). It IS a fight to persevere. Perseverance does not come automatically; it requires hard work. It is not optional; it should be a continual part of our Christian life.
The words of Paul are echoing in my mind as I close, in Philippians 3 v 12-14 ‘not that I have already reached the goal…’ I certainly have not reached there yet, but I’m so thankful to my Father for allowing the Holy Spirit to prompt me in this area so that I can ‘work towards the day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be’ (v12 NLT).
I am now praying that the Holy Spirit will enable me to see other ‘unseen’ things in my life that need ‘throwing off’ in order to run this race without hindrance and with perseverance. Can you relate? Is there some idol you need to throw off? Let’s continue to pray and encourage each other as we run the race God has marked out for us to THROW OFF THOSE IDOLS!