Consistency and Perseverance: Essential Qualities for Victorious Living

“And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9)

This past summer Barb and I were doing some landscaping in the backyard of our home and God used the opportunity to drive home a lesson He wanted me to learn.  The previous owner of our home had a variety of shrubs and plants scattered around the yard that were either dead or had become overgrown due to lack of attention.  Rather than try to rescue them we decided we wanted a cleaner look and decided to replace them with sod. 

Along the back lot-line, there were three shrubs total, two which were medium sized, 3-4 feet in height and one larger bush that was 11 feet tall.  Removal of the first two was relatively quick and easy.  I dug around the base of each one with a shovel and using a mattock took a few swings at the roots and had each one out in about 20 minutes.  It was deceptively easy and in no way prepared me for the challenge of the third larger bush.

From the beginning, the removal of the third bush was vastly more difficult.  The root system on this bush was more developed and had a complex of large, medium and small roots that extended in all directions from the base.  This meant I wasn’t able to use a shovel to expose the roots but had to get down on my hands and knees using a hand trowel to dig away small amounts of dirt from in between the roots.  After a couple hours work, much sweat and discovery of muscles I didn’t remember I had, only a tiny portion of the root system had been exposed.  I stood back to review the situation and thought there has to be a better, really what I thought was an easier, way.  It was time to take a break and rethink my plan.

Over the next couple of weeks, I would make several trips to our local Lowe’s home improvement store to purchase various implements to assist in the job.  A tree saw, another hand trowel, a weeder, even a crowbar, were all tried to make things quicker and easier.  But in the end, the only method that bore any fruit was to move small amounts of dirt by hand and then using either a hand saw or the mattock to sever the exposed root.  As the minutes became hours, I would try occasionally to move the stump but it remained rock solid even after many hours of work.  I reflected many times on the extensive nature of the shrubs root system.  The roots were not only all sizes going in all directions but they were also many times entangled with one another making it difficult to expose them and then sever them from the base.  At one point I thought about hiring someone with a stump grinder to come in and take care of it but then I decided I must be almost done and didn’t want to spend the money.  It is also likely that pride and stubbornness kicked in and at some level, it came to be about winning the fight!

Through it all there is one morning that stands out for me.  I was maybe halfway done though I did not know it at the time.  I was kneeling on the ground, knees hurting, digging away the dirt by hand, hands sore and hurting from several days of this and sweat rolling down my face.  Then all of sudden the Holy Spirit began speaking to me, using my battle with the root system to speak to me about my own journey of being transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus.  There were issues in my life that were like the first two shrubs, not all that developed, or deeply rooted, and relatively easy to resolve.  But there were other issues that were like the larger shrub, roots going in all directions that were much more difficult to resolve.  The work would be slow going, tedious, difficult and discouraging as the various roots, large and small, were identified and severed one by one.  And though it seems like there should be a faster and easier way, there is not.

I eventually prevailed but what I thought would be 1-hour job turned in to 15 hours of back-breaking work that unfolded over a couple of weeks.  But the Holy Spirit used the whole experience to teach me a couple of important spiritual lessons.  As we begin a new year I believe the Holy Spirit wants to impress upon us the importance of two qualities that will enable us to be victorious in our spiritual lives - consistency and perseverance. 

Consistency is doing the right thing in an ongoing way.  Dictionary.com defines it as “the steadfast adherence to the same principles, course or form.”  In the spiritual life, it is reading your Bible and praying every day.  It is meditating on God’s truth, listening to His voice and walking in obedience to it.  It is practicing the spiritual disciplines, not perfectly, but often enough that we can honestly say they are a part of our daily routine, like brushing our teeth or taking a shower.  In virtually every other walk of life, we recognize and readily acknowledge the connection between practicing something regularly and becoming successful.  Musicians, singers, athletes, teachers, and accountants all recognize that it is not enough to be able to do something once but competency is determined by being able to successfully accomplish a task on a consistent basis. 

Perseverance is continuing on even when life is hard and we are tempted to quit.  Again dictionary.com defines perseverance as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”  In the spiritual life, this is walking in love, faith, and obedience when people are unlovable, choices are risky and follow through is costly.  Being salt and light in a world that for the most part has rejected Jesus Christ will bring resistance, even persecution at times, but spiritual maturity cannot be achieved apart from persevering in the hard times.

God desires to develop each of these qualities in our lives because they are essential to our realizing His purposes for us.  Everyone reading this has been called by God and created to fulfill a unique purpose that no one else can fulfill.  The devil and his demons know this and use the various issues of our lives to keep us from fulfilling our divine purpose.  Pride, false identities, fears of all kinds, shame, rebellion, hurts and a host of other issues represent open doors for the enemy to harass and oppress us.  Confronting and resolving these issues will take consistency and perseverance in living out God’s plan for healing and freedom.  God is calling each of us to become more Christ-like in our thought life, attitudes and behaviors.  Achievement of that goal will come only through practicing consistency and perseverance in living the spiritual disciplines that create the environment for the Holy Spirit to work healing and transformation.  Is either, or both, lacking in your life? Would you be willing to prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to work on either one of these areas? We have God’s promise of success that we will “in due time reap if we do not grow weary” and give up.  My prayer is that we all experience breakthrough in 2018 and be enabled to live more fully into His plans and purposes in our lives.