While giving his sermon, the minister lost all track of time
as he preached on and on about the need for perseverance.
As the parishoners filed past him on their way out the door,
he noticed the oldest member, Frank Codger,
seemed to almost be squirming and even groaning as he trudged by.
“Are you ok, Frank?” prodded the talkative pastor.
“Well,” replied Frank, “I am now that you let us stand up.
You certainly made your point about enduring to the end!”
Enduring to the end is no joke. Hopefully our minds are made up that we will make it no matter how long it takes, no matter what comes.
To do that we must continually reevaluate and reinforce our commitment. “Let him who thinks he stand take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12).
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved” is in Matthew 24:13, part of Christ’s Olivet Prophecy. After the disciples asked Christ “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (verse 3), He gave them a list of challenges: powerful deception, wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, tribulation, hatred and many false prophets.
Here are other bullets we will have to dodge:
- “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (verse 10).
Reeled in by deteriorating society? Maybe not as bad as the heathen but backsliding below God’s standards? Ensnared by the cares of this life? Are we talking about others? Or self?
- “Many will be offended, will betray one another” (verse 10). Perhaps the hardest action one might have to endure—will your Judas be friend, family or even brother or sister in Christ?
- “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
According to the 17th century James Usher’s chronology of 4004 BC, we are 6,020 years along, when Christ should be returning at the end of 6,000 years. The foreboding blood moons come and go without anything earth-shaking seeming to occur. Agenda 21 is supposedly coming to start a new world order but not until 2030. Tempted to scoff?
- “Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13).
- Weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9)?
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Early in our marriage when our two kids were ages 4 and 8, we climbed Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in the U.S. at 2,425 feet over the valley floor. It’s a 5.7 mile round trip rated to take 6 hours. When our kids kept wanting to stop, we encouraged them on with a mantra to live by: Rest if you must but do not quit.
In my 30s once I really wanted to run a sub-6 minute mile. My friend Al Scheck could run one every time so I asked him to run with me and keep to a 6 minute pace. Then I made myself stay up with him. A 5:51 mile! Best finish I’ll ever have!
Just as I looked to Al, Hebrews 12:2 tells 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 and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 11:27 concurs, noting that Moses endured “as seeing Him who is invisible.”
- Persecution—“All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
- Root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15)?
The Bible gives the double command accepting no excuses: Offend no one (Matthew 18:7) and let nothing offend you (Psalm 119:165).
Jesus was tempted 40 days and 40 nights, not just three offers by the Devil. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph “day by day” (Gen. 39:10).
- Not getting the respect or recognition you expect.
- Neglect so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:1-3).
All these challenges the Bible warns us about. But know this that blows will come we would never expect.
John Rynerson was an American soldier who found himself fighting for his life on one of the most infamous marches of WWII—the Bataan Death March. More than 600 American soldiers died. Only one third of the soldiers survived.
They were forced by the Japanese to march over 70 miles for a period of seven days after already being weakened because of the short rations they had to live on before they surrendered to the Japanese. The Japanese allowed the prisoners to eat only once during the entire march. If any soldier slowed the march, he was killed.
John noticed that because the Japanese were taught never to surrender, they were so startled to see prisoners of war that they passed by the first group without harming the prisoners. As they came to the end of the line of prisoners, they would start beating and mistreating prisoners. John made the life-saving decision to be in that first group of prisoners who started out in the morning.
“Despite our disapproval with what God allows us to endure, he still remains the same God that is not interested in our convenience, as much as our character”― Shannon L. Alder.
Let’s do more than endure
“I think the idea of simply ‘enduring to the end’ is a terrible philosophy and an awful way to live one’s life. How you spend your days is how you live your life, and if you’re spending them ‘enduring’ anything then you’re doing it wrong”—James A. Owen, Drawing Out the Dragons: A Meditation on Art, Destiny, and the Power of Choice.
We must keep going and growing. Instead of settling for enduring the love of many waxing cold, we must be growing in love. Instead of enduring being weary in well doing, let’s be found “so doing” (Luke 12:43) with passion, vision—on a mission!
Let’s look to Jesus Christ our Savior the way Paul did: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearance” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
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