Wait Until the Lights Come On

Movie watchers typically stop watching as soon as the credits start to roll. We’ve learned to wait until the lights come on at the theatre before we leave, though, since after the credits for The Avengers and each related movie there’s at least one 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 couple of 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 seven times before rain came. What if Elijah had stopped praying before the seventh 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 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 must admit that 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 preview connections and truths that indicate what’s coming. I can’t go back and play through the credits again. I can, however, be more persistent moving forward. 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.

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 the Holy Spirit. 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.