Discerning Perseverance

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       March 4, 2016

                                    

This past month I have been going through the application process to be a substitute teacher here in Colorado. Your first question might be “Why?” My response, besides the fact that Walmart wasn’t hiring any new store greeters, would be “Why not?” I enjoy being around young people, and I get tired of hearing people say “Act your age!” At my age I’ve got one foot heading towards a tombstone!

The process, however, has been an exercise in frustration. It’s like an ongoing visit to the DMV, something very few of us list as one of our pleasurable activities. On the Colorado Department of Education application it seems I was asked about five times whether or not I’ve committed a felony. By the fifth time I was starting to think that I had…kind of like when my mom would keep asking me “Are you sure you didn’t do that?” I’m sure at some time through the process I confessed to her that I had committed some offense that my brother, Charlie, had really done.

In my application process I’ve struggled with new technology that I didn’t have to worry about when I applied for a summer job at Rollyson Aluminum Products back in 1973. How do I scan a document? How can I attach something to an on-line application without staples or paper clips? Why do I have to be reminded of the sad state of my first year college grades?

A friend of mine suggested that the torture of the process is God’s way of telling me that there is unconfessed sin in my life, and that I should repent…and then become a pastor again! I failed to connect the dots of his reasoning, but it did make me think of the Christian exalting of the ability to persevere. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-4 that “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” In James it says to “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4)

So the question is how does one discern the need to persevere versus God closing a door you keep trying to go through? One of my favorite Far Side cartoons is of a bespectacled young boy trying to enter the door to his school. He’s pushing, but the sign on the door says to pull. Above the door is a sign that says “School for the Academically Talented and Gifted.”

No matter how spiritually connected a person is there will be a constant discernment struggle about whether he is to keep on keeping on…trusting in God…persevering in the faith…and seeing that the door is closed.

I know I’ve confused those two a number of times over the years. The temptation to persevere gets easily attached to something that offers more prestige, more power, and more money. Closed doors are often in the background of decisions that offer no enhancing of my resume. Inconvenience gets viewed as a sign that God is saying “No!”

Going back to “sin in my life”, I recognize that the distance I put between myself and God because of my desire to be in control also causes a blurred vision of what I am being called to do or not do.

In my life recently I’ve had several situations where discernment has been needed. I wish I could say that I’ve nailed it every time, but there have been a few times where I’ve been pushing on the door when the sign says “Pull!” Quite frankly, when I’ve stepped back and finally seen what the sign says I turn red in spiritual embarrassment!

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Faith, Humor, Jesus, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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