One of the most appealing characteristics of the life of Jesus was his dogged persistence, His refusal to give in or give up. In the face of ridicule and persecution, He pressed steadfastly toward the mission for His earthly life. As Napoleon Hill would say, Jesus had a well defined “definite chief aim”. He knew what He was here to do, and nothing was going to prevent Him from achieving His goal. In the book “
The Traveler’s Gift”, author Andy Andrews relates the seven most important decisions one can make in life. The seventh decision, the one that ties the rest together, is to “persist without exception”. As Mr. Andrews writes, “I will continue despite exhaustion. I focus on results. I am a person of great faith.” Those are powerful words; we would do well to heed them in our walk with Christ.
Constantly, we are tempted to cut corners or to take the easy way out. It has been my experience following Jesus that He has never once chosen the path of least resistance. Without fail, He seems to choose the more challenging road. The people you encounter along that way are infinitely more interesting than those you might encounter on “Easy Street”. On the rugged road of life you find warriors, beaten and bloodied people, some on the verge of giving up, others who already have. On this path you will find opportunities to learn and to serve. By contrast, the smooth road that most will take is filled with blasé people content to coast through life oblivious to the richness and wonder of it all. As I’ve said many times, following Jesus is hard. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it. Everyone would sign up for their “fire insurance” and be done with it. This, however, is not the case.
Following Jesus means you will face struggles; you will have to endure difficult challenges. When the trials come, you will be faced with a choice: will you press forward, persist, and endure what has come into your life? Or will you lie down on the side of the road convinced you have done all you can and that you can go no further? While he’s certainly not a theologian, I like the way personal development guru Brian Tracy puts it: “Between you and every goal that you wish to achieve, there is a series of obstacles, and the bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. Your decision to be, have and do something out of the ordinary entails facing difficulties and challenges that are out of the ordinary as well. Sometimes your greatest asset is simply your ability to stay with it longer than anyone else.” Our goal is the biggest goal to which anyone could ever aspire; our goal is to live a life that looks like that of the Son of God. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
With large goals come large enemies. Satan will do everything in his power to discourage, dissuade, and disorient you. He hates God and he hates you. You need to realize and understand this going in. The reason following Jesus is so difficult is because demonic powers of great strength will oppose you. You may suffer financial loss, emotional turmoil and spiritual discouragement. Demonic oppression is not only real, it is certain for those diligently seeking to affect their world with the love and power of Jesus. You will face trial and you will face pain. It is during these times that we will choose to follow or to flee.
On the other side of each tribulation is Jesus. He has gone before us and leads us down the rugged path of truth and light. The road is there before us. In our own power, we could never walk it; but by keeping our eyes on Jesus, by breathing deeply of His power, we are able to overcome whatever lies between us and Him. Whether or not we make it through depends largely on whether or not we will persist. Will we give up when the pain increases, when the joy we thought we’d find seems light years away? Will we fold when challenged, or cower when threatened? Or will we persist? Jesus has provided the way and beckons for us to follow. As we pursue Him and begin to encounter the obstacles between us, will we fall away or will we press on? Determine with me today that you will push forward, and that you will persist without exception.