Sometimes we get tired, and want to retire from the fray. Life is difficult, the challenges are great, our expectations are often unrealistic, and opposition is unexpected. We want to give up and run for cover. This is true for every stage of life, but especially is it so when you get older and don’t have the energy and stamina of youth. When I compare myself with colleagues who are half my age, I think that I am ineffective. However, what will they be like at my age? I can remember being gung-ho for every new enterprise in my twenties and thirties. With the world changing so rapidly around us, we have to work harder to keep up. Yet, wasn’t the world changing rapidly in the sixties and seventies, when I was getting started in ministry? How do we keep on doing what we do? We can’t quit, fold our tents, and slink away to oblivion before our time.
St. Paul writes, “I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
We have to press on, straining toward what is ahead. We have a goal to fulfill, a prize to win. We cannot fall out of the race. We have a call, a vocation to complete. Each of us is commissioned by the Lord to do a unique task. When we get tired, we need to get the rest we need to fuel us for the morrow. We need to take care of ourselves. But we must not give up. The word that challenges me is ‘perseverance’. We are to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
The following prayers are a help to me.
“Lord, when you give to your servants to endeavor any great matter; grant us also to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same until it is thoroughly finished which yields the true glory. Through him, who, for the finishing of your work, laid down his life for us, our redeemer, Jesus Christ. (Sir Francis Drake)
“Give us God, the power to go on, to carry our share of your burden through to the end, to live all the years of our life faithful to the highest we have seen, with no pandering to the second best, no leniency to our own lower selves; no looking backward, no cowardice. Give us the power to give ourselves, to break the bread of our lives unto starving humanity; in humble self-subjection to serve others, as you, God do serve the world.” (J.S. Hoyland)