Once upon a time I ran a couple of half marathons. I remember that on the last one my stride and my rhythm were the best they had ever been. The miles whizzed past, I was on pace to shatter my previous time, and I felt fantastic. Then, at mile 8 the bottom dropped out. Totally unexpected…just boom! My brain could not get past it. My mindset went from a 10+ to a big fat 0. Every single step felt heavy, hard, and impossible. At the 10-mile marker, I texted my husband and said, “Mile 10. I want to quit. I mean it.” He shot back an encouraging text that added just enough fuel to my tank to propel me past the curb that I had contemplated sitting down on. And, with laser eyes focused on the words “Press On–Phil 3:14” written on the palm of my hand, I limped through the next three miles despite my screaming body.
I sat down on the track after the race was over and cried my eyes out. Cried and cried for 30 minutes. Why so many tears? Because I had finished. I had fought the temptation to quit and I had won.
The dictionary tells us that perseverance is a steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. That day, perseverance was defined as every step between mile 10 and mile 13.1. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, in the end, it was also one of the most rewarding.
Here in West Tennessee, we have been ice and snow bound for six days straight and counting. The snow that I had anticipated with much glee turned into a source of frustration come day three. It didn’t take long to feel the weariness of needy children, hungry mouths, messy spaces, and drippy snow clothes. I wish I could say that I embraced these first few days and treasured up the moments that a fresh blanket of powdery white snow brings, but, regretfully, I didn’t. While present in body, I was distant in thought and spirit. I yearned for peace. I yearned for quiet. I yearned for all my people to bow to my wishes. None of it was happening.
In my last post, I shared how the Lord has called me to a season of pruning. With that post still fresh on my mind, I knew in my heart that this attitude was EXACTLY what the Lord was wanting to cut away. The Spirit was leading me in one direction while the flesh, steered by the power of emotions, wrestled for control to go in the opposite direction. This jerky action between flesh and spirit was tugging so wildly at me and I simply wanted to escape. However, because of the five inches of snow and ice, I had no place to go.
On Sunday morning, I laid down on my closet floor in the dark (the only place where I’m hidden from people) for a long time. I talked to the Lord and it felt like He was so distant–so far away. After lunch, I announced to those around me that I was going to take a walk. This is laughable to me now because if you had seen the condition of my street, you would know that only a crazy person would have decided to go for an afternoon stroll that day. But, crazy I was, so I went.
Half of my focus was directed on not slipping and landing on my rear while the other half was wrapped completely up in prayer. I confessed my grumbly spirit. I confessed the wrong attitudes in my heart. I asked for forgiveness. I asked the Lord to help me continue on. I thanked Him for every tiny gift that these snowbound days had brought because I knew, despite my attitude, there were plenty. I asked Him why–why at almost 40 years old–am I so wayward some days? Why is my walk with the Lord inside the walls of my home so woefully inconsistent? Why can’t the joy of the Lord radiate from me at all times? I see it in others. Why not in me, too?
Questions, petitions, apologies, praises, pleadings, and thanksgiving rolled off my tongue during that icy trek through my neighborhood. I poured it all out and felt the cleanse that comes after a good purge. After I finally got quiet the Lord replied:
“By perseverance the seed produces a crop.” Luke 8:15
“Persevere Rebecca,” I felt Him saying. “It’s mile 10. Keep your focus on Me and don’t quit.”
“How Lord? How?” My heart was so heavy. I felt like I had wasted two good days to connect with and love my people well. “How do I get it back?” was the question that lingered in the air.
I eventually made my way back home, and, instead of going inside, I laid down in the snow and stared at the sky. My thoughts, now finally away from a noisy house, could finally enjoy the blissful silence. And, all I could think about was how I missed the noise.
I sat up and looked at the yard stretched before me. And, something sad occurred to me–the yard was untouched.
No snow angels.
No snow forts.
No evidence that children lived at our house.
“This is how,” He said.
I went into the house and called to the kids.
“Wanna come play in the snow with me?”
That late afternoon, we trekked all through our front yard. Evidence of play was on every square foot. We pummeled dad with snow balls. We ran. We made snow angels. We laid down, buried ourselves in the snow, and said over and over how beautiful, how peaceful, the whole scene was.
Together, they got me to mile 13.1.
Since that day, our snow days have been nothing but a blessing. Looking around my living room right now, I see all the game boxes from an ongoing family board game tournament, an almost finished puzzle on the table, half-constructed Snap Circuits on the floor, and blankets on the couch for cuddling. Evidence of time well spent. Most importantly, I have stayed connected to the Lord through His Word. In it He tells us,
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower
and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth.
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
All around us this week is ice and snow. Here today and gone tomorrow. But, because of its temporary presence, the land will spring forth with fresh vegetation in just a few short months if only it can persevere through the sub-zero temperatures and inches of ice and snow. That’s how it is with us when we read God’s Word. Despite all external circumstances, it is His Word that is working under the surface, inside our hearts, to produce good fruit that will come forth in due season. It is His Word that helps us persevere. It transformed me during that walk and gave me a renewed focus and repentant heart. Nothing else can do that.
Why has the Lord called for my life to be an open blog during this season? I don’t know. It’s hard enough to do it privately, between Him and I, and keep it as our little secret. But, that’s not what He desires. He desires that I walk through this on an open stage with a willingness to share what He calls me to share–for better or worse–with those He has entrusted into our care. I can only pray that as you read about the lessons that I’m learning, seeing the changes that start on the inside make their way to the outside, then you will benefit from them, growing in your faith and your own fruitfulness as well.
Tomorrow you will wake up and face the temptation to quit whatever hard thing you are going through. For us in West Tennessee, it'll be day seven of being housebound. For you, it may be something else. Whatever it is, remember this:
“By perseverance the seed produces a crop.” Luke 8:15
Not by ease but rather by perseverance will your fruitfulness come. Persevere my dear friend. Mile 10 is so very hard. But, mile 13.1 is so very sweet. Press on.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural, an even 50/50 split of introvert/extrovert, and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.