We get up early every morning so we can exercise before we start our day. A five-mile run will do the trick. Get the blood pumping and the synapses firing. Well … maybe. But a good cup o’ coffee works fine for me.
Now, I know there are those of you who love your cardio. You’re that person who could run a marathon. Maybe not a sprint, but if it’s got length and requires endurance, it’s yours. However, today, I want to talk about another kind of endurance. We’ll just call it good Jesus cardio.
A few months ago I heard a great sermon at my sister’s church. The pastor, who stated he had no particular talent, praised God that he was at least given perseverance. He said he may not be able to do anything well, but he would complete the job no matter how long it took. He also added that the road to failure is littered with talented people who couldn’t hack it. And though I must disagree with the pastor on his assessment of his own skills—I always enjoy his down-to-earth, though poignant sermons—I loved what he said about perseverance. Perseverance is the heart of the Body of Christ. It’s that part we need to exercise so we can run the marathon of life … and it is a marathon. So good spiritual cardio work is imperative to running, what the Apostle Paul called “The Race.”
The story of Joseph in Genesis is one of the best examples of perseverance in the Good Book. Joseph spent years being mocked by his brothers, more years as a slave and then even more in jail. Every time, he worked diligently and prospered, yet something always seemed to ruin his efforts. And yet, he maintained a strong faith in God and His purposes. God used all of those experiences to make Joseph the man he became and to place this Hebrew in a position of power in Egypt. Only an act of our Creator could do such a thing.
This is the kind of endurance we need through trial. We need to trust that God is still there even when life seems to block Him from view. Second Peter, verse nine tells us that if we are missing this quality (among others), we are nearsighted and blind, and have forgotten that we are cleansed from our past sins.
As writers, we need lots of this stuff, especially if traversing the world of the pre-published. It is a journey. I’ve heard estimates stating the average time for an author to become published from the time they start writing is between six and ten years. I’ve ONLY been at it, seriously, for two—sigh! Those who listened as I began the journey and excitedly asked, “How’s the book coming,” no longer ask. I wonder if they are afraid to bring up my “failure,” not realizing, it’s early yet. I haven’t failed. If I quit, then yes. But I don’t plan to do that any time soon.
So, every now and then, I go back to Joseph, read how at every turn, no matter how diligent his efforts, he was thwarted. Yet he remained faithful to the call and the Lord who gave it to him. I meditate on that a while and continue on.