Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Diligence - earnest and persistent application to a matter in hand

Diligent - characterized by persevering, painstaking effort.

Recently we had visiting Missionaries from Cuba in our church. They spoke to our congregation challenging us to grow deeper in knowledge and relationship with the Holy Spirit. They inspired us to accept that God has an answer to every concern, worry, challenge or mountain you may be facing. They referred to 2 Kings 2:9 where Elisha asked for a "double portion" of the blessings Elijah had received. The Missionaries challenged us to seek more from God. To push the limits of our imaginations to where God can use us and bless us more than we could ever dream in each situation.

After their message the couple gave a review of Cuba's history and where they are now. And one particular event stood out in my mind so strongly. I know
my dates/facts may be incomplete so I will do my best to convey only the story behind it.

At a time in Cuba's history when the church was under persecution, people stopped going into the churches. Soon the many beautiful buildings became empty, abandoned and the state soon took them over as storage places or offices. Yet, one church in particular was different. At one particular church building ONE woman continued to show up. She continued to pray there. She continued to sing songs there. She continued to study her scriptures there. Even after years of the government taking over unoccupied churches, they never took hers - because someone was using it.

The Missionaries carried on in their breakdown of history and how this church remains to this day as exactly that ... a church.

My mind stopped there.

I don't know how many years that woman showed up, but she did. She diligently showed up; consistently without faltering. To this day there is a legacy from her faithfulness. A blossoming church that went from 1 woman to 300 attendants to their current size of 1600 today.

When in my life have I persistently, diligently and even painstakingly stuck to something I wanted or believed in? We live in a throw away society ... if it doesn't fit, work or suit anymore we move on. We try something else. We assume after much time and prayer that God must have other plans. Or maybe even worse we soon believe God doesn't listen? Or care?

How many days or years would you show up to an abandoned dream, praying and asking for His touch?

If I sat and waited on God for an answer, how long could I wait? Days? Months? Years?

What about decades?

I have seen face to face my own selfishness. I don't know if I would have been that woman. I think I would have thrown in the towel when no one else came to join me. I would have succumbed to fears that one day I might be arrested and I should do my praying and singing in my own home. I would have wondered if God was listening to my pleas.

There is a story in the Bible about the persistent widow. I've read it many times and thought I knew what it meant. Until today.

If I truly believe in a loving, giving and gracious Father who knows better than our earthly examples of how to give good gifts to His children, then I must be diligent. I must be the persistent widow or the lonely churchgoer. I must beg God for more than what I see or hear or feel and learn to expect great things from Him.

But, there is fine line shrouded in gray to be aware of. I am not suggesting that God wants to please me by answering my pestering prayers. I am not trying to imply that I can get from God what I want or need like a vending machine with a few well placed kicks.  I am saying that God wants me to persist with Him. He wants me to diligently seek Him continuously and consistently without ceasing for the things He has laid upon  my heart. To not give up or grow weary by the temporal things I see and feel like ... time.

All this reminded me of a small piece of paper that sits on a shelf near my bed. It is in my own hand writing yet I often look at it wondering why I wrote it and what it meant to me at the time. There is no date on the page, no scripture reference and no explanation. I see it often and assume it was something I heard said once, maybe in a sermon and it had a great enough impact on me that I wrote it down.

The visiting Missionaries opened my eyes to the box my faith sits in. I can see clearly how I trust God - in the now - but l might fail the litmus test of time. Instead, from this day on I want to be the persistent widow, the diligent churchgoer. I want to be a long-termer!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Has God laid any burdens on your heart and asked you to camp out there? Share your stories and let's encourage one another to not grow weary.

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