Thursday, April 11, 2013

Persistence That Pays Off

Luke 18:1-8 - Also [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give upHe said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither reverenced and feared God nor respected or considered man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary. And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man, Yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will defend and protect and avenge her, lest she give me intolerable annoyance and wear me out by her continual coming .... Then the Lord said, Listen to what the unjust judge says! And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf? I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth?
This was me in 1998. I had met this man on July 7th. We were in England and a week later, on July 13th, I had a vision that he was the man I was going to marry.  Upon returning home from England, I woke up praying, I prayed during the day, I prayed during the night, I prayed while I got ready, I prayed while I drove. I prayed. I pleaded. I begged. And then, I prayed some more. Lord, pleeeeeeease let him know that he is going to marry me. Pleeeeeeeease! 

We were separated by 14 hours and about 4 states. Day in and day out, I prayed. For 18 months I prayed non-stop. It seemed like an impossible feat. I knew that I could not pursue him, and the I had to let him pursue me. How could I convince him he was to marry me if I couldn't even call him? And to him, I was merely the girl who lived in Indiana, a far cry from his future wife.

Nonetheless, I prayed.

I was like the widow. The judge granted her what she asked of him because she annoyed him with her constant pleas. That was me.

Today, I know a bit more about prayer than I did back then, but the reminder of persistence is another wake-up call for me.

Lets say, as a child, your dad told you he was going to buy you a bike for your birthday. A few weeks before your birthday came, you went and "test drove" bikes. You tried them out. You picked out your favorite color. You got the tassels for the handle bars. You got the little horn that you honk. You even decided to get a basket you could add onto the front. You found the perfect bike. Purple and pink, your favorite colors. Your dad, stood back as you finalized your decision. And it's made. He stands back just smiling. Then, the bike goes on order to be delivered on your birthday.

Over the next 3 weeks... let's check out 2 scenarios.
(1) Your dad told you he was going to get you a bike, and you already picked it out, but daily you continue to ask your dad for a bike. "Daddy will you buy me a bike? Can I pleeeeeeease have a bike. Daddy can I have a bike? Daddy, I really want a bike. Can I have a bike Dad? Dad, Dad, DAD!!! Can I have a bike? Will you get me a bike?" Your dad has already ordered the bike for you, why all the begging? "It's coming," your dad would respond at each request. 
(2) You know your bike is on order. Over the next few weeks you crawl up into your dad's lap, "Daddy, I just wanted to say thank you for getting me that bike! Thank you for the tassels that you let them add. And the purple and pink! I'm sooooo excited about riding it Dad! Thank you SOOOOO much! I love you sooooo much dad! You are the best dad ever!" And conversations like this happen a few times a day. Every time you see your dad, you tell him how great and wonderful he is. You tell him how thankful you are that he bought you that bike, each time you hug him, each time you thank him, his shoulders straighten, he wells up with pride that he has made his daughter happy. He is just as excited about the bike to be delivered as you are, just to see the joy on your face. With every compliment of how wonderful he is, he is far from annoyed with you, but each compliment of appreciation makes him want to bless you even more. 
Faith is now. When we pray the FIRST time and ask in FAITH, we can be sure that God has heard our prayers. Since faith is now, when we pray, we believe we have received what we have prayed for and then we can do like the girl did in the second example. EVERY time we come back to the throne of grace, we can come to our Father and THANK HIM for that desired outcome. Thank Him for what we had prayed for, in faith. And... we can still apply the same persistence. We can still thank Him several times a day. We can pray, sing, shout in THANKSGIVING!!!! "THANK YOU GOD FOR BRINGING THIS TO PASS!!! You are such an awesome Father! You are so good to me! Thank you Father! Thank you for answering my prayer! Thank you for loving me!! Thank you for your faithfulness!! THANK YOU FOR THIS____________. What a loving and gracious God you are! Thank you Lord!!" As we shower Him with love and gratitude, just like our natural father, I can only imagine that our heavenly Father would swell with pride and love for us too. Even during some times of prayer and thankfulness, maybe we would be crying to the Father out of our gratitude and thankful heart. With such sincere gratitude, I just see our heavenly Father wanting to love us and so happy to be appreciated and loved by his daughter. Smiling, just as our earthly father would as we "climbed up on his lap" at the throne of grace.

Our God is different than the unjust judge that it talked about in Luke 18. Our God wants to give us the desires of my heart (Ps 37:4)! Now... when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). To answer Luke 18:8, will we be those who continued in FAITH and in PERSISTENCE? 

July 13th 1998, I had a vision that I was going to marry Tyler. July 13, 2000, exactly two years later he asked me, "Would you be willing to be #2 in my life for the rest of your life? Will you marry me?" I said yes. Six months later on January 6th, we were married.

Persistence pays off. Don't lose heart or grow weary. Dig in and be persistent. For those who cry out to God day and night, will God defer YOU and delay help on your behalf?  I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge YOU speedily.  (Luke 18:7-8)

Do you want some answers speedily? Take the advice of Luke 18:7 - PRAY, CRY OUT, THANK GOD, COME, DAY AND NIGHT! What are you longing for God to do in your life? Well friend, let's THANK GOD day and night! Let's be persistent and watch Him show off how much He loves you!

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