He Who Endures to the End by Sharon Earnest
In 1995 my eldest son qualified for the NCAA division three cross country finals. He was thought to be a contender for first or second place and I wanted to be there to support him. Even though money was tight, I flew to Pennsylvania with my sister to see him run. We watched the race with great anticipation waiting for Mark to cross the finish line and receive a medal. However, instead of coming in first or second, Mark was no where to be seen. After what felt like an eternity he came limping in to the finish line. He had suffered a stress fracture. It took great courage on his part to endure the pain and not give up.
Endurance is what we need to run the race that God has set before us and to persevere through afflictions, persecutions, hardships, and even the dull repetitive tasks that we face every day. The question is how do we run our race with endurance? How do we prepare others to endure for the days are fast approaching when more will be required of us? In fact many of the circumstances we are going through right now are to prepare us for what is ahead.
The Lord wants us to develop the perseverance of a serious runner, the ability to endure to the end, so that we finish the race set before us. The Lord quickened to me six principles that will be essential if we are to endure to the end.
WE NEED A SOLDIER’S MENTALITY
I am convinced that we will not endure to the end without a soldier’s mentality. Paul told Timothy, “ To endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Enduring hardness runs counter to our American way of life although that is beginning to change. We have lived in a time of great material blessings and have come to expect a certain standard of living. It has caused us to feel that we are entitled to a life of ease and pleasure.
Also, the focus these last few years has been on how to receive blessings. It is true that God blesses his children, but we don’t see blessings as the primary focus in the early church or even a century ago. The early Christians had a soldier’s mentality. They understood that they were in a battle between two kingdoms : The Kingdom of Darkness and The Kingdom of God. As a soldier, they were willing to pay whatever price necessary to see the will of God done. Their life was a life of sacrifice and obedience.
Paul demonstrated the mentality of a soldier when he was warned not to go to Jerusalem because of the danger which awaited him. His response to the warning was ,” But none of these things move me neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24
There are days when I quote Paul’s words because I am tempted to have a pity party. I have to remind myself that I am a soldier and as A.W. Tozer said, “God did not make us to be posies under a glass but soldiers to conquer the fields of battle.”
WE NEED GOD’S GRACE.
We need God’s grace to endure hardness as a soldier of Jesus Christ and to endure to the end. One of the major themes that stood out in reading about missionaries of this last century was that all of them relied heavily on God’s grace. One missionary, Darlene Deibler Rose, told of the time when she was being taken for interrogation by the Japanese Kempeitai. After enduring several brutal interrogations she felt she couldn’t take it any longer. She cried out to the Lord and said “Oh Lord I can’t go through another one Lord. I can’t, I can’t. Please no more Lord. And His reply to her was “But my child my grace is sufficient for Thee. Not was, not shall be, but it is sufficient.”
We may not be facing torture and interrogations but we have situations which never seem to change and days when we wonder if we can put one foot in front of another. It is only by His grace that we can meet the demands of each situation. He gives us divine enablement to persevere. Paul certainly had a long list of tribulations and afflictions he had to endure,.( Read 2nd. Corinthians chapter 11:23-27), yet he said he took pleasure in his infirmities. He knew that when he was weak he could press into God to receive His grace – exchange weakness for strength, receive divine enablement and dunamis power.
We can all receive God’s grace. Hebrew’s 4:14-16 tells us that Jesus Christ, our great
High Priest was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, therefore, we can come boldly to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and grace to help in the time of need. His grace is sufficient for whatever we face.
I can’t leave this section without telling the story of Corrie Ten Boom as a child. One day she expressed to her father her fear that she was not capable of being a martyr if God asked her to. He asked her a question. “When you have to go on a journey, when do I give you the money for the fare? Two weeks before?” ”No, Daddy,” she replied, “ on the day that I am leaving.” Her father responded. “ He does not give us grace now for something we may have to pass through later on. If he thinks we are worthy to die as a martyr, He gives us the strength for it at the moment we need it.”
WE NEED TO KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS
This advice comes from the book of Hebrews. This book was written to encourage the people of God who were in danger of falling away because of the hardships and tribulations they were experiencing. I believe that Hebrews is a book for today’s challenges. The admonition in Hebrews 12 :1-3 is “Let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
Hebrews goes on to say, “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners, against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” There are times when we are tempted to give in to weariness and are ready to quit. We lack the resolve to continue. When that happens we need to consider Jesus. Consider does not mean a passing glance at what he endured but it means to weigh, contemplate, meditate on, and give one’s attention to, his example, his determination. One scripture says “ He set his face like a flint”. By the grace of God we need to set our face like a flint and let nothing move us. We need to keep our eyes Jesus when we feel weary and want to give up for He is the author and finisher of our faith.
WE NEED DAILY COMMUNION WITH THE LORD
This is the most important thing we do everyday. Jesus is our example here. He rose up early in the morning and went apart from the crowds to fellowship with the Father. As a result He was able to say , “I only do what I see the Father doing, I only say what I hear the Father saying.” He did not rush around trying to solve every problem but lived to do God’s will. When tempted by Satan he declared, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In order to hear from the Lord we need to spend time with Him. As the times grow more difficult it is even more imperative that we hear from Him. Our lives will depend upon it Johannes Fascius says that the only real security we have is in our ability to hear God’s voice..
Darlene Deibler Rose tells of the time when the Japanese were coming closer and closer to New Guinea where she, her husband and other missionaries lived.. The Dutch authorities came to them and told them they were evacuating all foreigners by ship in a few days and advised them to leave. Dr. Jaffray’s, their leader, asked them to pray to see what God’s will was for each of them. After several days of seeking the Lord, their answer was to stay. The boat they were to travel on was torpedoed and no one survived. Their lives were spared. Later when they were imprisoned by the Japanese they had the calm assurance that they were in God’s will.
There is no substitute for hearing from God and receiving a quickened word. It may be a word of assurance, of His love for us, direction, correction, or a word to fight the enemy. Whenever the Lord quickens His word to us ( usually from scripture) it is a word we can stand upon. Feelings come and go but His word stands forever.
WE NEED TO SOAK IN THE WORD OF GOD
When Corrie Ten Boom was asked by Elizabeth Elliot how we should prepare for tribulation, Corrie replied that we should soak in the word and pick out scriptures to memorize. One of the things that helped Darlene Deibler Rose was the fact that as a child she began memorizing scripture and read her Bible frequently. Over the years she had memorized large portions of the Bible. When the Japanese took away her Bible she was able to feed upon the scriptures she had memorized.
Brother Yun, Chinese pastor and author of The Heavenly Man, tells how meditating on scripture helped him to get through times when he was tortured. Sabrina Wurmbrant, wife of Richard Wurmbrant, who was imprisoned in Romania under the Communist regime tells how in prison each person would share the scriptures they knew with others. Since they had no Bibles those scriptures were a lifeline in a dark place.
WE NEED TO KNOW THAT HE WILL NEVER LEAVE US NOR FORSAKE US
We must keep the Lord’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us before us. David Livingston, famous missionary explorer to Africa in the 1800’s, returned to Scotland after 16 years of dealing with loneliness, fevers (16 in all) , a lion attack which damaged his left arm, the loss of his wife, and the evils of slavery. He was invited to speak to students at the University of Glasgow…He said to the students “ Shall I tell you what sustained me amidst the trials and hardships and loneliness of my exiled life?” It was a promise, the promise of a gentleman of the most sacred honor. It was this promise. “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.”
At his death they found him kneeling in prayer at the edge of his bed. His Bible was opened to Matthew 28:20. In the margin was written “The word of a gentleman. The promise in Matthew 28 is to all his followers and has been given to us no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in. “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” Another promise of his presence with us is in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER
As the days grow darker we need to encourage one another with the plans and purposes of God. This brings me to something that has been on my heart for some time. We need the true prophetic voice to rise up. No more puffing up people saying you will be blessed, rich, and have a big ministry. The prophetic should point us to the plans and purposes of God, encourage us to continue the race set before us and to keep our eyes
on the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we get discouraged, weary, and are ready to quit. But the true prophetic says as did Zachariah to Zarubbabel “Not by might, nor by power but by my spirit says the Lord. The hands of Zarubbabel has laid this foundation of this house’ his hands shall also finish it., Zachariah 4:6,8 The work of the Lord had stopped because of opposition from the enemy, but the prophetic word strengthened and encouraged Zarubbabel and the people so that they finished the work.
In these days of uncertainty and danger we need the true prophetic word encouraging us, comforting us and exhorting us to persevere God has called us to run a race and finish the work he has set before us. By His grace we will finish our course and endure to the end.