Friday, 28 September 2012

Confidence and perseverance

Hebrews 10:36-37
'So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.' 
Lord, this same passage has found me via four - no - five different routes over the past week. I'm starting to think you're trying to tell me something.

I catch on quick. 

I'm just not sure quite what to make of it, though.  I sometimes wish you'd be a bit more obvious about your messages. I worry that I'll miss it completely, or if I do catch the general drift, that I won't pick up on the proper significance of what you're telling me. I don't think I'm the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to nuance. I could do with the neon finger writing in the sky but that's not your style, is it?

So. What confidence am I throwing away?  The context of the verse is that Paul (assuming it was Paul who wrote the book of Hebrews - people seem to be squabbling over who the author might be - was it Paul?) is writing to the persecuted church and telling them to hang on to their faith even when it's hard, because in God's own time (in this life or the next?) there will be a great reward. When the race is run, as Paul said elsewhere, good things will happen, because you don't break your promises. I know that you don't.

So. I'm not considering abandoning my faith. What if 'confidence' means what I usually take it to mean and you're telling me not lose confidence? Don't be discouraged. This would be good, because I've been feeling discouraged lately. I'm sure you've noticed that I've been feeling a bit droopy recently.

Here's the thing. I wish your timing was the same as mine. I've had a few plans mapped out in the last few months and I thought you were on board. Or rather, ahem, I thought I was on board your Plan.  I thought we were of one mind. And yet, if we'd been singing from the same hymn sheet, ha ha, things would have happened by now. Or at least I thought they would. When things don't seem to be going the way I think they should I start to doubt that I understood you right in the first place, or whether I'm up to the job I think you have for me, or whether any of all this is worth bothering with in the first place. 

'So don't throw away your confidence...'  Are you telling me that it's all in hand?  Are you telling me to wait and see, sit tight, just keep on keeping on even though things aren't the way I thought they'd be?  

Alright. I trust you. I know that I can't get anywhere under my own strength. I know that even when from my perspective, opportunities are drying up and possibilities are diminishing, this is not necessarily how you're seeing things. Your timing is perfect and you never, ever, arrive late or mess things up. 

So if you're telling me to stick with the programme, that's fine with me. I'm down with that, as they say. I'll take every bit of encouragement you've got, because sometimes it's a hard thing to stay optimistic when this world is telling me that it'll never happen...who am I to imagine...?  
'You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.'
This is a bit less confusing. Don't give up. Heard that before. There are times when those words energise and inspire me and times when they just depress me. Keep hoping. Keep plodding. Keep trying. Keep going. Even when I'd rather just take the line of least resistance and climb under the duvet. 


Persist, carry on, continue, keep going, struggle on, hammer away, be persistent, be determined, see something through, keep at it, press on, be tenacious, stand one's ground, stand firm, hold on, go the distance, stay the course, soldier on, hang in there. Don't you love the thesaurus?

Antonym: give up.

So, don't give up. 

Don't give up when people don't understand and when they criticise and when they mock. When people think I should be doing other things and don't approve of what I do instead. When I focus on you and other people are jumping up and down and waving their arms in an attempt to distract me. When I do what you tell me to do even when it makes me unpopular. Keep going when I get it spectacularly wrong and come crashing down; keep going when I'm not sure what to do next. Keep asking for enough light for the next step. Always the next step. The next step is enough, though I so want to see the whole way to where we're going. 

Maybe it's better that I don't...

I need to trust where you're leading me, even if it's not where I thought we were going. Even when it's not where I wanted to go. It's a bit scary. Will you take another look at my plan?

Promises. Because you never break them. If you make a promise, you pay out. You don't change the goalposts and you don't welsh on the deal. If you promise, I can take it to the bank. 

I like the sound of receiving what you've promised me.  I hold in my heart some pretty specific promises (if I've understood them properly; can we talk this through sometime, please?) and I am so looking forward to the day when I get my promises.  Still a bit blurry about this world or the next, but I'm hoping for this.

So I am going to hold onto my confidence. My confidence, not in me, in what I can do, but in you. I am fully confident that you are God; that you are in control, that your timing is perfect, and that you never ever go back on a deal.

I'm going to keep going because you told me to. Because I want to follow you, and you're leading me somewhere. I'm going to trust that you know the way better than I do. I'm going to keep trying.

Thankyou. For being there. For a word of encouragement just when I need it. And for making sure that I didn't miss it by sending it five times.

You do know me, don't you?

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