Revelations 3:10a Since you have kept my command to endure patiently…
I have competed in a number of endurance races in my lifetime, and I can appreciate perseverance stories of other distance event competitors. Having experienced various physical and mental strains during multi-hour or even multi-day competitions, I can still vividly remember the battles that raged in my mind – whether to quit or persevere. For that reason, I was intrigued to read a headline on a Canadian Triathlete’s blog: “My first Half Ironman Victory….and broken toe”. This triathlete, Grant Burwash, apparently fell over his bike during the transition from bike to run. During this transition you will often be barefoot, and as Grant stepped on his fallen bike, he cut off the skin below his big toe, punctured his second toe then took another step only to break that same toe. While most people would have quit, for others the word quit doesn’t compute, and it certainly did not for Burwash. The pain of the wounds and break only increased as the race proceeded, but Burwash finished the half marathon run (21 km) and in fact completed it in an amazing 1 hour-16 minutes, winning this leg of the race and the entire triathlon.
What causes a person to continue when almost every message in their brain says quit, when everything around them seems to be screaming “give up”? While I can’t argue that persevering in an athletic event is a necessary step to spiritual maturity, I can confidently say that the concept of perseverance in our spiritual lives is an absolute necessity if we want to walk the life of a disciple, that is a Christian life worthy of the one we follow – Jesus Christ.
Today’s scripture is taken from the book of Revelation, the prophetic writings of the Apostle John, a man who followed Jesus, and witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection. Supernaturally inspired by God, John wrote Revelation while a prisoner on the Island of Patmos. In Chapter 3, we hear of what transpired with a number of the New Testament churches that we hear about earlier in the book of Acts and elsewhere. Now some 50 years after their founding, it is interesting to hear where some churches now stood, but John also mentions some churches we hadn’t heard of before, one being the church of Philadelphia.
In Revelation 3:8b we read: “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name”. And in today’s reading we read (vs 10a): “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently”… What encouraged me the most was God’s recognition: “I know that you have little strength”. I have recognized over time that the great irony is that spiritual perseverance is not a matter of our own strength, but rather a decision to declare our own inabilities, our own weakness, and a decision to cry out to the Lord to pick us up. It is a decision to not deny him (no matter what our circumstances might suggest) and to continue to follow him. I have found that things have often gotten brutally difficult in my Christian walk, and many times I have heard the message in my brain to quit, but it is in these times that I remember to plug into my Saviour and to hear the message to “endure patiently”.
In John 6, we read: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (vs. 66). Jesus then turned to the 12 disciples and asked: “You do no want to leave too, do you?” (vs. 67). Will your answer be the same as Peter’s? “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (vs. 68)