Capital “P” Perseverance…

The message at church this weekend was one that nourished me.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it, the link is below.  It was a pep talk I desperately needed, that I have goals in my life and to achieve them requires persistence.

Goals are something I used to shy away from because the fear of failure was too great for me to contend with.  So I either didn’t set goals for myself, or I set them so low that there was no chance I couldn’t meet them.  Now for me, for us, the goals can be anything.  They don’t have to be a cure for cancer or world peace (though those are great goals), for example I have a goal of being more responsive in times when I have trouble expressing.  When I get locked up, I’m non-communicative and as a result I’m sending a message that I’m upset which could be read by the people near me that they are either wrong or bad.  The truth is the just opposite, but I have trouble powering through that.  I’m locked up because there’s a lot swirling around up there that gets me caught up in all the noise, sending out a message that is unintended.  So one of my goals is to put more words to my emotions, another is to be a more consistent producer at work so my family can have a more carefree existence and hitting milestones with my sobriety dates are also goals.  So those are a few, and in order to hit those goals I need to run the race marked out before me and to attack it with perseverance.  Steve Carter laid out five requirements I took as reminders that will help us build perseverance, five things that are necessary for us to reach our goals.

Passion- We all need to have enthusiasm, to have a burning desire to achieve our goals because otherwise in those moments of wonder, we may wonder if it’s worth it.  Being excited about achieving a goal should inspire us, and give us energy for pursuing it.  If I don’t have passion for something, there’s a good chance I will fizzle out, and that *goal* will fall by the wayside.  I have a bedside table filled with books I started thinking I was passionate about, and they are there still maybe half-read.

Problem- Regardless of how blessed a goal is, along the way there will be a test that comes up.  But it’s in those tests we are made more complete.

James 1: 2-6 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

In those tests, when problems come up, we have choices to either take the route of the wise-man or the path of the fool.  The path of the wise-man seeks God in those trials, and as a result their faith grows.  On the other hand, the path of the fool is one that he goes by himself, and it leads to sin.  I’ve been there, and know what making the decision to go it alone looks like.  I’m not saying I’m wise, but I definitely have had my faith built up by seeking God in times of trial and the inverse is I’ve also walked the path of sin alone.  I have to lean into God when the tests come,  and be assured they will come.  Those are the times when my nature tells me that *I* can figure this out.  I can’t.  I’ve proven that I alone can’t achieve the things I set out to do, but when God is at the center amazing things happen even in the middle of a storm.

Patience- Lord give me patience and give it to me right now.  You all know that waiting, and being patient isn’t something I’m particularly good at.  I’d be willing to say that it’s something else we all share, that waiting and remaining steadfast and patient is challenging.  It’s easy to get bogged down, and to even decide that giving up is the best decision.  I can even justify, or rationalize giving up.  Again, this is an opportunity to lean in and to remember that our schedule doesn’t match God’s.  That we need to resist the temptation to get angry or frustrated, but to be like our Father and be slow to anger.  To practice patience, even when faced with feelings of disappointment, anger, resentment and even entitlement.  Check it out with someone, and yes even pray about it.

Prayer- I need to ask myself honestly, how healthy is my prayer life?  Having a healthy prayer life is incredibly powerful, and leads to a deeper connection with God but also allows us to connect with ourselves and check out whether we’re going it alone or if we’re moving with God.  I look at the prayers that my daughters offer up as something I strive for personally.  They have a conversation with God, it’s unfiltered and raw.  They’re sharing what’s on their hearts and on their minds, it’s a real look inside what’s happening.  When I’m in a good place I can have a connection like that in my prayer life, talking to my Father and sharing, not filtering.  He knows what’s on my mind, what’s on my heart and not sharing doesn’t protect me.  In fact, it hurts me, because it’s actually me believing a lie that God doesn’t need to be brought in on something.

People- We need a community, and that’s why each of you is so important.  That’s why Tuesday night is important, and why the text-string is so powerful.  It’s a reminder that we matter and that others care enough about us to be there.  You matter.  How many years I shied away from sharing my struggles with others, and how I stunted my own growth.  I need you guys, and the ways you support one-another is a gift.  It’s also the accountability we need.  When one of us needs help, or needs accountability we’re all there.  Or when one of us drops away from group for a bit we step up, not using shame, but in concern we reach out and also welcome you back.  We’ve all taken steps back in our growth and in our recovery, but there’s no guilt that you’ll ever hear from us.  No shame.  No condemnation.  Only love and concern.  Because we’re all a bad decision or two away from going it alone, and going down the path that leads to sin.

James 1:12  “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Thanks for being there.  Thanks for persevering.  You are so worth it!

Grace and peace

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