The Underdog of Spiritual Virtues

Some of the most important things in life are downright boring.
Which is why modern humans miss so much.
We’re so busy catching the next wave,
We neglect to appreciate the depth of the ocean.
That could easily be me
But God loves me so much
That He gives me things I don’t want.
Like my job.
I didn’t want the job I have.
I wasn’t even looking for it.
I didn’t want to work full-time and I didn’t want to get back into human service.
God orchestrated circumstances so I needed something I absolutely didn’t want.
My job was an answer to a prayer I wasn’t praying, but I should have been.
When I was offered the job, I made every argument not to take it.
When I accepted it, I cried and then went to bed for a couple of days.
I’m a baby when I don’t get what I want
and when God makes it clear He has other plans for me.
And all of that is horrifying to confess
because it’s been clear from the start that I was designed to do the job I have.
I knew it in the interview.
Every qualification they were looking for, I had.
Every life experience on their “we hope to find” list, I’d had.
And the capper came when the team who interviewed me looked at one another nervously
and one of them said,
“Okay, but there’s one thing we have to mention that usually turns off any candidate for this position.”
I relaxed a little thinking finally, here was my way out. “Go ahead,” I said.
“The job involves a lot of writing.”
And God laughed.
So, as ungrateful as I was for receiving a job I’m designed to do, God continued to show me grace within the work in that it’s meaningful and touches the lives of families in trouble.
I’ve learned so much from them.
The greatest lesson has been the value of one of life’s most boring virtues.
One of the primary tenets of the unusual program in which I’m trained is persistence.
There’s nothing fancy about persistence
It simply involves a lot of not quitting.
It’s not a sexy skill and when we cover the tenets of the program in training, it takes about a nano-second of training time.
“Yeah, we value persistence so, um, when everyone else gives up on this family it’s your job not to do that.”
It’s easy to underestimate the power of enduring
But in the past month, I’ve become a sold-out believer.
I have had closing celebrations, graduations of a type, with three families who I would have bet big money at the start could not overcome their challenges.
There it was, my job to believe in them, and inwardly, I was waiting for the clock to run down on their ability to overcome, bracing myself for failure, hedging my bets and preparing to move on.
Believe me, there was a lot of hard work involved, tears, long – long – long conversations, trips back to the drawing board, tough truths told, yelling, adjustments, barriers, solutions, more barriers, and time – lots and lots and lots of time.
You get the picture.
And some people would join the team and try to help the family but give up when their attempts didn’t work quickly.
They would look at me with pity, like I was stuck while they could escape, like I was a special kind of crazy, and they would slip me applications for other jobs.
And I’d want to quit on the family, too,
but my job is not to give up when others give up.
That’s my job
Because we value persistence.
And many times I wanted to give up
because I’m just like everyone else
but I wouldn’t, because that’s my job
and everything I do, I do as to the Lord.
And after many months of me not giving up,
A funny thing happened:
the families began to believe in themselves
or maybe, hearing something one hundred and ONE times finally took,
or trying something for the fiftieth time,
or maybe just hearing themselves say the same thing repeatedly to the same person
worked some kind of magic.
But whatever mystical power persistence has (accompanied by much prayer),
I have had the joy of celebrating with three families in just this past month who overcame impossible challenges –
Impossible, I tell you,
And reached a place of joy, of functioning, of enjoying one another again, of hope, of seeing a bright future where once there was nothing but pain.
And the credit goes to persistence.
A boring, heroic value.
The underdog of spiritual fruits
An archaic notion too easily dismissed by a rapid-fire, give-it-to-me-now, generation
And only discovered as the gold it is by me
because God gave me what I didn’t want,
said no to my foolish prayers
showed me mercy when I wasn’t wise enough to ask for the best
because it didn’t look like anything special.
And these families I’m assigned to help
have helped me learn more about my own faith,
about my own Lord,
and about the truth of His Word.
All because God refuses to give up on me.
“God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Romans 2:6-8
How about you? What has been your experience with the power of persistence?

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    The Conversation

  1. Judith Robl says:

    Thank you, Lori, for focusing on the power of just keeping on keeping on. As you say, it isn’t fancy or glamorous. But it is the thing that gets us through the tough times. Especially keeping on keeping on believing in God and His want-the-best-for-His-children will.

  2. As a social worker, I know the persistence and frustration you’re talking about, Lori.

    Even though I no longer work in that field, I’ve had to overcome a lot physical, mental, emotional and spiritual battles over many years now. If I’d given up, I’d never have seen what God can do in seemingly impossible situations. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. krex_1 says:

    Congratulations on the success of these families! Without a doubt, God used your gifts to help release them from habits that compromised their futures. May your persistence, and the Holy Spirit, continue to shine light and truth in some really dark, humanly hopeless situations!