Perseverance (Evidence of the Spirit: Part 4)

Perseverance (Evidence of the Spirit: Part 4) March 27, 2024

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)


Life is a marathon, but sometimes, we treat it as if it’s a sprint. We make to-do lists and cling to them as though we are trying to run the race in one day.


None of us knows, however, exactly how many days we have left on this earth. We don’t know exactly what work we’re supposed to accomplish before we race to the finish line. We can read (or write) books about finding our calling, and that can be helpful in getting us on the right track. Don’t forget, though, that we don’t achieve our goals instantaneously. We need to learn to appreciate the journey. And every journey proceeds one step at a time.


Therefore, if we fix our eyes on Jesus, and focus on what we’re doing now and what we’re doing next, then we can trust that God will get us where we need to be, and at just the right time. We will, of course, have obstacles to contend with on the way.



The first key to dealing with things that distract you from running your race is to simply be awake and aware  of the fact that the distractions are there.  It’s so easy, especially when you do so much of your work on a computer,  as I do, to fall down a rat hole on YouTube or Wikipedia or some such. You don’t even realize it’s happening until two hours have gotten away from you, and you wonder where the day went. In my family, we have several little slogans that we use to help keep us on track. Sometimes we actually even follow them!


Work first, THEN play!


Most of us would rather goof off than work on any given day. But what typically happens is, at the end of the goof-off session, the tasks remain, and now you have less of the day to get them done. Plus, you feel guilty about the time you wasted, hours that you will never get back, so you don’t even enjoy the goofing off you were doing.


Instead, push forward and persevere in getting the work done as quickly as possible, so that you can relax guilt-free afterward.


If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist!


I actually started this one when my sons were little, and we were broke. We had a very limited grocery budget, so when I would take them shopping with me, I would tell them, “If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist,” in order to ward off any impulse buys on my part and whining on theirs.


Today, this is a mantra that I use (or try to) on my to-do lists. Especially on days when I work from home, it is so easy to get distracted by things I notice in my house that need doing. Next thing I know, it’s 2:30, and I haven’t written anything, and I meant to start at 9:00!


I have found that it helps if I focus on the one task that I have to complete. And then just the next thing after that. I rarely get it all done, and certainly not in one day, but by the end of the week, I am able to look back and see real progress. And the following week’s list is smaller!


Avoid the fishhooks!


This is a reference to James 1:14, which reads:


Rather, each person is being tempted whenever he is being dragged off and enticed by the bait of his own desire. (CJB)”


Our lives are full of fishhooks. These are the things that distract us from running our race. Each person has his or her own problem area, but they all have these things in common:


  1. They are something we enjoy.
  2. They are something we would rather do than what we are supposed to do.
  3. They are something we can see.


Just as a fish is lured by what’s on the fishhook, we get dragged off of the race track by things that may not seem bad in and of themselves. After all, fish gotta eat, right? You’re not going to catch a fish by baiting the hook with something that is not attractive to it. But what happens to the fish after it is caught? 


Then, having conceived, the desire gives birth to sin; and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. James 1:15 (CJB)


Fishhooks are a big deal. People try to justify them every day. “Well, that was a lazy day.”  Or maybe, “Sometimes, you just have to blow off some steam.”  If it happens once in a while, sure. But while once is an off day, twice is the start of making distraction itself the habit. Before you know it, you’ll be baiting your own hooks. There is only one long-term vaccination against this kind of deterioration.


Run the Race with Integrity


Yes, if you’ve been reading Truth Mission for any significant length of time, you’ve heard this before.   Say what you mean.  Mean what you say. Do what you say you are going to do. But most importantly, FINISH WHAT YOU START!


It is easy for well-meaning people, such as me, to leave a trail of half-finished projects behind them. It is also easy for such people to beat themselves up over their inability to finish anything. If allowed to persist, this attitude can give birth to the lie that you are INCAPABLE of getting anything done. From there, it’s a short detour to, “So why even start?”


Folks, this is a lie. Call it what it is. Your life has already started. It is in the middle of a marathon that began long before you even knew there was a starting gun. You have gotten things done before. You can do it again. But you may have to get hardcore on those fishhooks.


Be kind to your mind.


Be absolutely merciless in removing distractions from your life. You’re not going to offend the distractions. Candy Crush or Toon Blast or Bubble Buzz or whatever the shiny, colorful game du jour is will not miss you when you leave. They may send the odd notification, but you can make those go away too.


If you need to install an app on your devices to filter out distractions, don’t wait another day to do that. There are many that can block certain troublesome websites, or at least limit the time you spend on them.


If you’re a cyber-insomniac, enhance your sleep hygiene by setting your computer or phone  to shut off when you ought to be going to bed. Or better yet, a half hour before, to let your brain wind down.

Keep your eyes on the prize!



In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadowboxing or playing around. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (TLB)


The fastest course through the minefield of distractions in your life is a straight line with your goal at the end. To reach it, you have to keep your goal in view.


Now of course, some distractions are fairly simple to deal with since we bring them on ourselves. But what about the ones we don’t?


What do we do when a loved one gets ill? Or a child goes astray?  Or if we lose a job, a car, a home?


Things happen that are beyond our control, and naturally, we are going to have an intense emotional response to them. Life is going to throw us curveballs, and we’re not going to be happy about it. But remember, there is a difference between happiness and joy.


We can endure hardship by keeping our eyes fixed on the finish line, by thanking God that the finish line doesn’t move, even when everything else is in turmoil, and by simply persevering. One foot in front of the other. Always facing forward, even if life is knocking us back.


Carry Your Cross


The verse at the top of this post reminds us to consider Jesus. He persevered in His ministry, of course, but that last day . . .


Closeup of bloody Jesus carrying the cross
from The Passion of the Christ


You don’t have to be a doctor or an anatomy professor to be able to imagine the incredible pain that Jesus suffered on His last day. To be beaten within an inch of His life, and THEN to have to carry the heavy, wooden cross to the place where He would be nailed to it. The root of the word “excruciating” actually comes from the Latin for “cross.”  Harry Potter fans may even recognize that J.K. Rowling used the word “Cruciatus” for the Unforgivable torture curse. Same word.


So I consider the agony that Jesus endured, but I also consider that He finished His race. He was able to finish because He knew what would come after.


Guess what Truthseekers? We have the same “after” in store for us, only we don’t have to be tortured and nailed to a cross to get it. When I reflect upon my first-world problems, I sometimes ask myself, “Does this hurt more or less than a crucifixion?”  (My kids HATE it when I ask them that, by the way.)


There are people in the world who are persecuted for real. They are in fear for their lives every hour of every day for standing up for their faith. The worst we typically get here in the US is smack talk at work or some fool in the comment section trying to pass his silly self off as an intellectual.


In other words, we can handle this. There will be days where it will feel like we can’t, but our great God has promised to be strong where we are weak. So don’t overthink your life. Look at what’s directly in front of you, and look at what you have in your hand. And trust that it is enough.


Then move. One step. Don’t worry about the next step until you have taken the first one. Planning is all well and good, but make sure you do it in pencil. Just stay on the track.


And keep running. Your perseverance will be the evidence that you know where your finish line is.


(Lots coming up in April! Be sure to click on the Free Newsletter Link so that you don’t miss a post.)


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