Run the Race with Perseverance | January 10th, 2019
Every January, I make it a priority to select a new word. It is a word to keep at the forefront of my mind throughout the year ahead. But before I do that, I have to spend some time contemplating my most challenging goal I have set for myself. The word I choose is one that can help me focus to attain that goal.
Did you know, as a follower of Christ, it is your spiritual responsibility to set goals? If you don’t set them, other people in your life are going to be the ones to decide what is important for you. When you wander through this life without purpose, much of your time can end up wasted. Your goals determine how you are going to grow.
The Apostle Paul, whose focus in life was to bring glory to God and share Christ’s message of hope with others, knew the importance of setting goals:
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:26
Every successful achievement comes from having specific goals in mind or better yet, in writing. Make your goals realistic, attainable, and challenging. And write them down. Then, ask yourself this: Do they glorify God and have eternal value? If so, you can be assured they will be in agreement with God’s will.
Your goal might be to improve a particular discipline in your life such as having daily time in prayer and meditation on God’s Word or serving others on a regular basis through volunteering. Perhaps it is a physical goal like losing weight and increasing your energy by making time for regular exercise and healthy meals. Or maybe your goal is to get out of debt so you can have more money available to use for eternal purposes such as missions or helping those in need in your own community.
My Word for the Year
Personally, my most challenging goal this year is to finish writing my second faith-based book. I have been s-l-o-w-l-y working on it for the past two years, taking my time to finish it. Maybe too much time. But this is the year I plan to finally have it completed. Therefore, my word I chose for 2019 is PERSEVERANCE.
I must admit, it is not easy for me to take a good chunk of time out of the day to sit at the computer and write. To be honest, I would much rather be out and about swimming, walking my dog, enjoying nature, socializing with friends, planting flowers, anything but sitting inside glued to a chair!
I realize that those are all good things God gave me to enjoy and I will definitely continue to enjoy them, but I know they can also be huge distractions if I allow them to take up too much of my time. My focus ends up elsewhere instead of on my goal. God has laid it heavily on my heart to finish this book, so I know He desires for me to keep my eyes on the goal ahead without constantly using distractions as an excuse for why I don’t have the time.
The Meaning of Perseverance
The definition of PERSEVERANCE is “persistence in doing something to the end, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” The Latin word for PERSEVERANCE is perseverantia which means: “to abide by something strictly.”
If I allow distractions to interfere, I am not abiding by my goal with eternal value to grow stronger in my relationship with Christ. I know He has so much to teach me through the writing of this book.
A few synonyms for PERSEVERANCE include determination, endurance, patience, dedication, stamina, diligence, and purposefulness. These are all motivating words to keep in mind when working toward a challenging goal.
I recently purchased a brooch from the 1940s, created by costume jewelry designer Harry Iskin:
I am drawn to his jewelry because of his inspiring story of PERSEVERANCE during one of the most challenging times in history…
In 1917, Harry Iskin got involved in the jewelry business as an engraver but had to put his career on hold after he was drafted to serve in World War I. He resumed after the war ended, starting his own business manufacturing wholesale jewelry. He did well for several years until World War II started in 1939.
At that time, an urgent call went out for Americans to donate any scrap metal they had to the war effort. All base metals were now critically needed for defense production. For jewelry designers like Harry Iskin, this greatly impacted the way he could manufacture jewelry as a ban had just been placed on using the exact kinds of metals he used to make his jewelry.
Iskin was determined, however, and made a major change to use sterling silver in his designs instead. But gold was the preferred look and metal of choice at that time. Instead of giving up, he figured out a way to make it work and began plating the silver with yellow and rose gold. It was a success and his PERSEVERANCE paid off.
What is your greatest distraction when pursuing a challenging goal? Perhaps it is fear. You may be procrastinating getting started on your goal because you are distracted by thoughts that are causing you to have a paralyzing fear. The devil loves to make you think you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goal. Discouraging thoughts may enter your mind like: It’s too hard. Why even try? You don’t have the resources. You’re not good enough. It won’t be a success. In the end, you’ll look like a failure.
Those are all lies, lies, and more lies! If you are living with eternity’s values in view, persevering in what God has given you to do, there is no way it can fail. God is a God of success, not failure! You were never created to be released into this world without a specific, perfect plan for your life. That is completely inconceivable for a God of extreme detail. If you don’t believe it, just take some time to study how the human body, which God intricately created, works to digest food, breathe oxygen, and function in great detail to maintain life.
There are many distractions the devil may use to keep you from focusing on bringing glory to God. If he can tempt you to fall into sin and out of your relationship with God, he knows you will never reach your goals that have eternal value. And that is one of his greatest goals!
PERSEVERANCE is necessary to resist distractions. You are running a long-distance race, as it is described in Hebrews. Those distractions are like running with extra weight, and even more burdensome when they lead to sin.
To persevere, you must have the right focus. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus to complete the race He has set before you. He is always with you to encourage you and cheer you on to the finish line.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
The Great Planner and Provider
God is all about goals. He is the Great Planner. He fulfilled His eternal plan to make a way for you to be saved from your sin so you would never have to be separated from Him after you die. He also has a detailed plan for your life here on earth which He laid out in His mind before you were even born!
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:13-16
If God has set something on your heart toward which to direct your ambitions, take it seriously. He knows the very best plan for your life and will provide everything you need to accomplish your goals to achieve that plan.
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
The race looks different for everyone.
God created us all with our own unique gifts and abilities. I challenge you this year to choose a word that will light a fire under you to reach your most challenging goal with PERSEVERANCE.
God has blessings in store for you beyond what you could ever imagine if you just trust Him and follow His perfect plan for your life.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9b
Run your race toward a goal with eternal value and you will finish strong.
Sparkler #1: Prayer
If you have not set a challenging goal for yourself, ask God to show you what He would have you work on this year so you can grow spiritually.
Sparkler #2: Action
Take some time to figure out what kinds of distractions keep you from fully pursuing your goal and then make necessary changes in your life so you can achieve it with success.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Ask a friend to keep you accountable with distractions so you can stay focused on accomplishing your goal.
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