One of my favorite things about living in Burlington is that you can drive to numerous amazing trailheads in around an hour. In the middle of January that means one thing for me: snowshoeing! Yesterday, after our Home Fellowship meeting several of us headed to the edge of the Green Mountains to hit the trail and take in some views. As we trudged forward two things happened (the same two things that always seem to happen when hiking in the mountains): the trail became steeper and our legs grew more tired. Also, this time we had a third issue with the setting sun. This is the point on the trail where you have to make a decision: do we move forward to the payoff view and risk hiking back in the dark or do we head back to the car while our legs are relatively fresh and there’s still daylight?
Packing a couple of headlamps made this decision much easier, so we moved forward on the steepest part of trail not knowing for certain whether we’d hit the top in 10 min, 30 min, or one hour. The answer was 12 min, and the view was well worth the extra effort.
Later that evening as I was vegetating on the couch, my mind wandered to this question: how many times in ministry do we miss the payoff because we don’t persevere and give up just a little too soon? Perseverance is a constant theme in scripture: Luke 8:15, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Hebrews 12:1, 2 Peter 1:6, Revelation 2:3 provide a few examples. Perseverance also seems to be one of the determining factors in whether we make the most of an opportunity and see maximum fruitfulness. From everything I can see in scripture about perseverance, I’ve come up with this simple definition: to keep moving forward—to keep doing what God has called us to do— even when we are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually running on empty.
I have this gut feeling that this year I’ll face times when I feel exhausted and empty, the path ahead will seem especially steep, and God will remind me that if I continue moving forward anyway that the payoff is coming.