Two weeks ago I ended my letter with a quick description of a certain type of life:
Imagine a life driven by this definition of success. The purpose, the contentment, the quietness, the meekness and humility, the strength in the day of adversity, the peace with all people, knowing that it is for our good, for our testing, for the strengthening of our hope, that we endure all things with love.
And lest with think endurance is simply a big picture idea, remember that unless we endure day by day, we will never endure until the end. What does it look like to endure daily?
It begins with our first thought and then an examination of every thought - are we doing what we do for Him? It requires constant prayer as we offer everything up to Him who sees and hears. We must actually be satisfied in Him, not despising our current situation, but content with what He has given us for exactly this moment. And as we live in satisfaction, we put down indulgences, anything we turn to in place of Christ. Here we are able to commune with Him openly and honestly, asking, “a hundred times a day, ‘Lord, what wouldst thou that I should do?’” Then, we go to sleep hearing well done and we arise with joyful expectation to do it all over again in the presence of the One whom we love above all others.
This is daily endurance - a slow, steady, strengthening process not very much different than training for a race or other athletic pursuit. We see the finish line, we look forward to it, yet today we put one foot in front of the other, we train, we sacrifice temporary pleasures to eat right, waking up early to ensure we have the time, knowing that it is only through persistence that we will finish well.
It is all too tempting to see the finish line, but then lose the daily motivation to endure. And one day rolls into several as an entire week passes by before you see you've wasted it focusing on yourself - places you'd rather be, things you'd prefer to be doing, memories you want to relive, dreams of fame, fortune, pleasures, etc. We must endure daily if we are ever going to endure until the end.
Today I thought it worth expanding upon this description of a lifestyle of endurance.
On the subject of daily endurance and some descriptions of what it looks like, although by no means comprehensive
It starts with our first thought every day. What is it? What excites us, stirs us from slumber, motivates us to start the day? Take notice of this first thought and attempt to fix it on Him - the One who gave us life, sustains our life, and has blessed us with another day. We will all have different pursuits and responsibilities during the day, but give Him your first thought before you go on your way.
In all things, thankfulness. Let, “I have enough,” be our cry. Settle it once and for all, “The Lord has richly blessed me with everything I need for life and godliness.” Therefore, lay aside bitterness, complaining, striving, jealousy, discontentment, and the voice of the scoffer. Thank Him, specifically and in general. Even a simple, “Thank you, Lord,” under your breath. Start here. Be satisfied in Him.
Practice joyfulness. Realize that the power of the Holy Spirit produces supernatural fruits in our life. Fruits that are far beyond your abilities and manifest without any human explanation. These are not primarily outcomes such as healings, prophecy, and tongues. No, the daily supernatural power shows up in otherwise unexplainable fruits such as joy in the middle of pain, peace with all, even our enemies, patience that refuses to be worried or in a hurry, kindness in the face of animosity, gentleness when answering back to the skeptic, and love - always love.
As we encounter situations, choices, decisions, new environments, and the moment by moment of every day - ask for wisdom and discernment. This is an open and honest commune with Him, whereby we say, “a hundred times a day, ‘Lord, what wouldst thou that I should do?’” Then, when we have asked, we must exercise that wisdom and discernment, putting it to use, and by means of use, strengthening it. This may look like a word spoken in due season, an encouragement given, a refusal to participate in a certain activity, a witnessing to what the Lord has done for you, a bold proclamation, a discerning of spirits, a word of knowledge, a simple keeping of a commitment, a faithful providing for your family, or anything in between. There is nothing static, boring, templated, formulaic, dry, or dusty about this type of a life hidden in Christ.
Once the day has come to a close, reflect back on the outcomes. Not just the external results, but also on our motivations, the state of our heart, the desires that drove us, and the thoughts we had along the way. Take everything to Him who, “sees in secret,” and lay it at the feet of Him before whom all things will be revealed.
In bringing it before Him, in humbleness, honesty, and urgency, let us then do three things: repent of sin, rejoice in grace, and spend time praising, loving, and adoring Him. Don’t be in a hurry to leave this place. Think about Jesus. Meditate on Him. Dwell on who He is, what He has done, and the day you’ll see Him face to face.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6
Then, while still keeping our gaze fixed intently upon Him, let us think about His reward, those He suffered and died for. Pray for the harvest of this reward. Pray for the return of those who once believed but now walked away. Pray with the hope and confidence of one who sees the Lamb of God receiving the reward of His suffering. Real people and real souls who are currently hardened, rebellious, depressed, worried, anxious, led astray, caught up in strange beliefs, addicted, aimless, and wanting nothing to do with God - pray for the sovereign hand of God to open their eyes, regenerate their heart, and draw them to Himself. Can you see them coming even now?
Ask in prayer for everything, believing we have received what we have asked for. Be specific. Then wait. Set aside moments where you aren’t going anywhere. Stop. Listen. Dwell. Abide. Be fascinated with Him again. Love His presence more than the presence of any other. Long to be near to Him. “There is none upon earth that I desire besides You!”
And while we wait and whenever we gather together (may it be often, daily even), sing songs of both spontaneous praise and written melodies, that we may stir our hearts and spirits through these choruses.
Let us also not neglect to read the Scriptures. May we read to understand, to know Him, and to be changed. May we read for wisdom, direction, and so that we may be prepared with an answer for those who ask us of the hope within. Most of all may we read to truly know the God of the word.
I’ve also found it helpful, though by no means required, to read other Christian works, especially to seek out and find the old works. These are the writings that have stood the test of time and encouraged many, many saints before us. Read about the ways in which He has interacted with His people in the past. Hear stories of God’s faithfulness played out. Listen to the perspectives of other generations, facing a different set of cultural pressures, and be comforted that we serve a God who never sleeps nor slumbers. (send me a message if you’d like some recommendations)
Finally, lest we grow deceived in all our learning, let us continue to love our neighbors as ourselves. The Scriptures teach that it is impossible to love God and hate our brother, though at times we may find it much easier to love the One we cannot see than the one standing right in front of us. We must be careful not to forget the description of pure and undefiled religion, “to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) Endurance towards God is perseverance not only in faith, hope, and word but also in deed, especially to the least of these, “Let us not become weary in doing good.”