July 28, 2010
When Persistence Pays Off
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV)
I almost walked by her. As she looked over, our eyes met and recognition flashed between us. We crossed the room and hugged like the old friends we were. The usual conversation followed with a few minutes of catching up and then my tentative question: "Are you still going to church?"
My mind flashed back to years ago when we first met. I invited her to church and reached out to her about my faith but she wanted nothing to do with it. The look in her eyes told me that my efforts were hitting a brick wall she had carefully constructed around her heart. And yet, I still asked her to church, shared my own faith journey with her, and persisted in letting her know that God loved her.
This went on for years. Then one day she finally agreed to go with me. She visited with my family a few times, then told us that she was going to start attending another service that was better suited to her schedule. To be honest, I figured it was just a polite way to stop coming without telling me. You can imagine my trepidation as I asked if she was still going to church.
I couldn't believe it as she nodded in affirmation. A radiant smile filled her face. "Remember last week when the pastor asked people to raise their hands if they had prayed the prayer of salvation?"
I remembered the service clearly and smiled back as I nodded.
"Well," she said. "I was one of the ones who raised my hand!"
We hugged and laughed and promised to get together soon before parting to join the people we were with. I spent the rest of the night with a goofy grin on my face. I never thought I would stand across from her in a restaurant and hear that she had accepted Christ as her Savior! I had begun to believe that we would spend the rest of our lives with me pursuing and her running. I was glad I had persisted.
In my novel, The Mailbox, the main character Lindsey is a lot like my friend. She struggles with God and resists Him for years. Her best friend Holly is a Christian and continues to present God to her, giving her a Bible and praying for her, encouraging Lindsey to seek God when life delivers hard blows. Holly doesn't give up and even takes some rejection and ribbing from Lindsey through the years of their friendship. Holly has her eye on the prize and is undeterred by Lindsey's resistance. There might be someone in your life that God has given you a heart for—to reach out to, to invite to church, to pray for, to love, to be God with skin on. You look at their life and the deep need they have for Him and you simply can't turn away. You know you can offer the key to unlock the source of their fulfillment. This treasure is too important to give up on.
On my refrigerator hangs a magnet which says simply, "Never, never, never give up." This is true in sharing Christ with our friends and loved ones. Even when they turn away, we can persevere. I am glad I did.
Dear Lord, You know the person I am burdened for. You see their need for You. Help me to not give up in sharing You. Give me creative and non-threatening ways to make You real to them. And soften their hearts to receive what You are offering. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen
Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
Visit Marybeth's blog
If there is someone on your mind after reading this devotion, do not wait to reach out to them today. Continue to build a relationship with them and pray for them even if they seem resistant to hearing what you want to share about Jesus.
Is there someone you have given up on? If so, why? Do you need to begin reaching out to them or praying for them again?
Hebrews 11:27, "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's wrath because he saw him who was invisible." (NIV)
I Corinthians 3:6, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." (NIV)
© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105