What Have You Been Missing?

3-26-13 the end

Wait Until the Lights Come On

Movie watchers typically stop watching a movie as soon as the credits start to roll. Yet, my family and I have learned to wait until the lights come on in the theatre before getting up to leave.

After the credits for The Avengers and each related movie (Captain AmericaThe Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor) there’s an extra clip that shows further connections among the movies. Of course, turning off the movie or leaving the theatre before the credits finish means missing the extra.

(You’ll find “extras” at the end of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and The Amazing Spider-Man too.)

Waiting out the credits, and in some cases just part of them, involves persistence. Even if you fast forward through them, like we do at home, getting to the extra clip still takes time. Yet, persistence pays off in giving a preview of a coming sequel or a connection you might have otherwise missed.

Faithful Persistence

This idea of persistence, waiting through the monotony, translates well into our spiritual lives. Let’s look at a few examples.

Elijah showed persistence when he prayed for rain in 1 Kings 18:41-46.  Rain did not come after his first prayer, or his second one, or even the third. Elijah prayed 7 times before rain came. What if Elijah had stopped praying before the 7th time?

Jesus gives another example, recorded in Luke 18:1-8, of the importance of persistence.  He tells of a persistent widow and her requests to a corrupt judge. The judge eventually gave her what she wanted to get her to stop bugging him. Jesus ends his story by asking a rather disturbing question. “How much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”

What Have I Been Missing?

These stories stir in me a rather bothersome question. “What am I missing because I lack persistence in my prayers?”

I’m equally bothered by the question, “Will Jesus find persistent faith in me when He returns?”

Don’t lose heart.

As I attempt to answer these questions, I stare a very real truth in the faith. I have often given up too soon. I have gotten discouraged and lost heart. I have often lacked persistence in my prayers as well as in my waiting for God to move.

Jesus’ reason behind telling the persistent widow story is explained before the story even begins.

“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lost heart.” (Luke 18:1)

In other words, don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. This was the purpose of Jesus telling the parable of the persistent woman, and I suspect that this is a reason behind the story about Elijah too.

Amplifying Persistence

Unlike with movies, I can’t rewind my life and see what I missed. I can’t go back and play through the credits again. But I can be more persistent now. I can push through in faith in my current circumstances.

I can seek His will and then ask according to His Name. I can believe that He will answer based on that will. Then, I can live in the confidence that only comes from trusting in Him.

And at the same time, I must realize that my ability to know His will and to believe in faith that He will answer comes from Him. Without Him giving me the ability to be persistent, I’ll continue to miss out because I’ll continue to leave before the lights come on.

DISCUSSION: How do you see persistence playing out in the life of a Christ follower?

21 thoughts on “What Have You Been Missing?

  1. I like to stay through the credits, if for nothing else than to see who is who and who is singing a song. But you also make a good application to our faith. Sticking it out to the end will seem long and sometimes tedious and arduous, but well worth it.

  2. It can be difficult to remain persistent. It is easy to focus on that which we have been waiting on instead of that which we have gotten and are blessed with. We need to have a grateful heart even as we are aching for answers to some persistent prayers.

  3. Our prayer life is exactly like you mentioned about leaving too early. We lift up our petitions and intercessions to God, but how many of us stick around to anticipate and expect an answer. Do we look to give God the credit He is due by allowing Him to speak to us in the silence when our hearts can hear the whispers of His Spirit to direct direction and coming attractions according to His will? Hmmm, good example…. I think I will hang around after the credits next time.

    • I know my prayers & expectations for answers end before the credits roll & lack peristence too much of the time. Am learning to dwell longer. So thankful for the drawing of the Spirit to keep me coming back.

  4. I love the Parable of the Persistent Widow, which you referenced a little. The amazing thing about that is that it's Christ telling us how to pray there. He's essentially saying that God loves it when we persist in prayer – to the point where we feel like we're almost bugging him. That's not an annoyance to God but a pleasing display of faith. That's mind-boggling to me!

    • I am with you, Loren. God’s ways are mind-boggling at times. The term “mind blowing” is so over-used these days, but the concept is certainly never over-used on God.

  5. i m reading Renee Swope Confident Heart and can see how this links with what God has been teaching me. Just this morning as I played a computer game while waiting for a connection to complete I found I won because I was persistent and did not quit, even though it looked hopeless. Sometimes we loose hope when days are dark but if we stick with the plan, pray, read God's word, offer Him praise and thanksgiving I am learning that He will come through and the sun will shine again. This is a good illustration. thanks Kari

  6. So true in my life. I am so patient when it comes to most things and I need to pray for more patience in other things as well. My spiritual life is one of them. I am working very hard on patience and persistence. I need to be patient and wait to make a decision, yet be persistent in my requests for guidance. Instead, I am persistently impatient. 🙂 Well – luckily, I am a work in progress.

    • The Bible has a lot to say about patience, but what I find most interesting is that it's a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and not something we acquire or seek. Now, doesn't that just mess with you? It does me! So against what the world teaches. In other words, when we get more of God's Spirit in us, we become more patient. Hmmm…. Thoughts?

  7. One of the things I've lacked in my life has been a persistent prayer life. Sure, I'd pray here or there but never on a persistent basis. I've begun training myself to become better at this by setting alarms that remind me to pray and what to pray for.

      • Thanks Kari. With the reminders set, I begin thinking about it even before they go off. It's been nice having the prompting but then He begins to prompt as well. It's definitely helping me become more persistent!

        • I’ve heard of people praying every time they drink from their water bottles or hear sirens. Whatever works, right? And, as the habit is build, it becomes more natural and, dare I say, even addictive. Become addicted to talking to Jesus. I’m excited for you!

  8. Dang, I have missed a lot of extra clips:)

    It takes perseverance to keep running the race God calls us to run. To stay focused on His truths and purpose. Great thoughts Kari!

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