Persistent–“continuing to exist despite interference or treatment”
“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”–Luke 18:1-8 (NRSV)
I have been thinking a lot about the story of the persistent widow this last week. This story is a story that we hear in the Gospel of Luke. This woman is persistent and keeps coming back. But the thing is she isn’t the only one who persisted. Mary persisted by living out her calling as Jesus’ mother. In addition, who are the other persistent women you have read about in the Bible? There are numerous other women who persisted found throughout the stories of the Bible.
And it is their stories and the stories of many other women who have changed me. I wouldn’t have gone to seminary and be serving in a church if other women before me hadn’t persisted. I wouldn’t be who I am without my mom…who day in and day out persisted and continues to persist despite living with a mental illness. I wouldn’t be here without all of those who have persisted before me and continue to persist every single day.
Because of their persistence, I find that I am able to persist too. Just the other day, I was asked, “What are some words of wisdom that you have been given that have changed you?” I immediately was reminded of my endorsement interview (part of the candidacy process). During the interview, a member of my candidacy committee asked me, “Why have you struggled so much with systematic theology?” I don’t remember what I said, but I remember how my seminary advisor responded. He said, “Do you know how easy it would have been for Tara to walk out the door, shut the door and never look back? It takes more guts to stick with it.” As I reflected on his words, I was reminded that it was because of the persistent women before me that I was able to stick with it.
Now I am not saying it is easy, because I don’t think that it is. But we have some pretty amazing examples before us. Rosa Parks who simply wouldn’t give up her seat on the bus because she knew that she too deserved a spot. The very persistent widow I spoke of earlier who persisted until she found justice for herself. Are we willing to follow their examples and be persistent ourselves?
Persistence for me is working and doing my best to seek “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with my God.” Persistence is remembering that each and every one of us is a beloved child of God. Persistence is persisting to hear the voices that are different than mine and to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.
In fact, my friend Shannon reminded me of the very words I heard the day of my consecration almost 11 years ago. “Tara, serve the needy, care for the sick, comfort the distressed, and, through words and actions, witness faithfully to God’s love for all people. Cross every barrier that stands between the church and its ministry in the world. Seek out those places where the gospel of Jesus Christ meets the world’s need. Empower, equip, and support all the baptized in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Lead us all in proclaiming the gospel in witness and service. And be of good courage, for God has called you, and your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
What does persistence look like to you?
I am linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell Hi Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday.