By Anthony Casperson
On a recent episode of the podcast called Cooper Stuff, the guitarist of Skillet (Seth Morrison) talked about his experience joining the band over a decade ago.
Going a bit further back in his story, Seth said that he’d felt like God had gifted him for music, but the direction of his life didn’t seem to be leading him that way. He was working at his dad’s shop and didn’t have any prospects in what to do. But that didn’t set him back. He didn’t complain or question God’s calling. Instead, he prayed that he would be faithful to God in whatever place he ended up. Even if it meant staying right where he was.
Prayer for faithfulness to the will of God was his continual action.
When he heard about Skillet’s need of a new guitarist, he sent in a demo and doubted it would go anywhere. But again, he prayed for God’s will to work in his life. And though there’s much more to the story, it was the reputation of Seth’s spiritual life—one that prayerfully focuses on following the will of God wherever it takes him—that impressed the band’s leader.
Hearing that story, I felt two things. Tired, and yet encouraged. Tired because I know that this is the 350th blog for Brushstrokes of a Theonerd that I have written. And I don’t feel that I’m accomplishing very much at all with the website.
I have prayed for God’s will through the years, hoping that this calling—to write blogs, record sermons, and even write a book—would reach people who need to hear the words that God gives me. And though a number of people have been touched by the words, it still feels like a relatively tiny amount of people who could really use them. It seems like this is a lot of effort for little impact.
But, notice I also said that Seth’s story left me encouraged.
Encouraged because it reminded me that my role in God’s will is to continue on. Being prayerfully faithful wherever this call leads me. I pray for God’s will. And move in line with it as best as I can. And then pray again.
It’s perseverance despite desired results. Because faithfulness isn’t about continuing on just because we always get what we want. Rather, it’s about knowing that God’s plan will produce in us—the followers of Jesus—the best outcome for our spiritual growth regardless of how we thought it would go.
Sometimes, learning perseverance is exactly the thing we need to experience to reach the next step of God’s calling in our lives.
In Luke 18:1-8, we see Jesus teach a parable about perseverance. The very first verse actually gives us Jesus’ reason for teaching the parable. It was to teach us to always pray and not lose heart. The whole point of it is to keep us from despairing.
Or growing tired.
We see in the parable two characters. First, a harsh judge. A man who held himself as the highest authority. And seemed rather unjust for an arbiter of justice.
The second character is a widow who had been treated unfairly by another person. She had no one else to go to for justice. No prospect to hire someone to plead her case. All she could do was keep going to this unjust judge and hoping that he would finally hear her plea.
Day after day, she cried out for justice. And day after day, the judge refused to hear her case. But the widow never quit.
Finally, the judge grew tired of even seeing her presence. You can almost hear the sigh when he saw the widow walk into eyeline. And so, he heard the case and gave her justice.
Jesus asks if even in this ridiculously extreme case, perseverance led to justice, how much more should we expect our good, loving, and just God to give us the best thing for our lives? Shouldn’t we expect our persevering prayers to be answered with the justice of God?
Now, this doesn’t mean that we’ll always get our way, or the exact response that we expect. But it does remind us of the type of God we serve. A good and just God who wants to give us the best spiritual life that he can give us. Even if it means that life doesn’t go exactly the way we thought it would.
And so on this 350th blog, I hope that we few who read these words can look at any sense of directionlessness or despair about life not going the way we thought it would and then place that concern before God in faithful and persevering prayer. Again and again. Until the goodness of God is revealed in our spiritual lives.
Find encouragement in the work of God in us. Pray for faithfulness to do his will, wherever it might take you. And keep going.
That’s what perseverance is about.