My daddy’s word to me was “sticktoitiveness.” He always told my brother and me the only true way to success, to achieving anything of real value, was to have the quality of “sticktoitiveness.” Of course, what he was referring to was perseverance. My daddy had an eighth grade education and as an adult received his GED. He served in the Korean conflict, he was a mechanic for Bordens Milk company in San Antonio, a San Antonio Police officer and a major in the National Guard. How is that even possible for a poor farm boy from Goliad, Texas? He grew up on a farm with 5 brothers and sister. They were dirt poor and really had nothing. Yet, somehow, he was able to achieve all the things I listed above. My daddy was one of the smartest people I ever knew. He could figure out anything, he could fix anything, he could make something out of nothing. His word, “sticktoitiveness” played a huge part in who my daddy was.
This whole idea of perseverance has been coming to me over and over, as I thought about what I would write for today. Our bishop has made the decision to ask all of the Metro district churches to remain closed for another month, into October. The numbers as related to the Covid-19 pandemic are still not where they need to be for us to feel safe to gather for in-person worship. This is starting to get a little old, I know. For the safety of others and for our vulnerable population, this is what’s needed at this time.
So, perseverance is the word for us. The longer we can persevere through this situation, the better the outcome will be for all of us. What does it mean though, for us to persevere? It means continuing to do the things we know to be right, even when times get hard, when patience draws thin, while others are not doing what is right. This idea of perseverance is hard. It gets tiresome, it gets old, it gets draining. When times are good, the whole idea of perseverance seems easy. Its easy to do the right thing when everything is going our way. But when times get hard, when there are competing ideas about what we should be doing, when our friends and even family may diverge from what we know to be good and right, our perseverance is called on to kick it into gear. We have to double down on our efforts.
This same idea of perseverance plays into our faith. Faith is easy to have when the sun is shining and everything is going our way. But when the way gets rough, when opinions turn ugly, when racism or elitism, or xenophobia take hold of mass groups of people, its hard to keep the faith. When our faith becomes predicated on what’s best for us, then persevering in faith in the God who stands for justice, compassion, love, forgiveness, understanding gets harder and harder.
In Isaiah 40:31 we’re told, “They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings of eagles, they shall run and not be weary, walk and not faint.”
You see my friends, we are encouraged to have “sticktoitiveness” when it comes to our faith. We are not promised the road will be easy. We are not promised great groups of people will come to our aid. We are not promised others will join us in our righteous path. But we are told that if we persevere, God will renew our strength. We are promised that in the long stretch of keeping the faith, we will be able run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint. God is with us in all we endeavor to do through faith. Whether it be continuing to worship online, or continuing to pray for and uplift our sisters and brothers of color who are bearing the burden of racism, or praying for the most vulnerable among us and for their safety and security.
We are a people of faith, and as a people of faith we know a bit about “sticktoitiveness.” We know that when the Hebrew children had been enslaved and oppressed for over 400 years, God did not forget them. We know when the Nation of Israel was dispersed into the Babylonian exile for 70 years, God did not forget them. We know when our ancestors faced challenges, both great and small, God did not forget them. This gives us comfort knowing God does not forget God’s people, and if we persevere in our faith, God will strengthen and encourage us all the way to victory.
We are called to persevere right now friends. To persevere in doing what’s right to defeat this deadly pestilence. To persevere in doing what’s right so that justice can be had for all God’s people. To persevere in loving more, sharing more, giving more, and in faith, God will be with us.
I love and admire each of you for all you are doing. Keep the faith, knowing God is uplifting us even now.
Blessings and Peace,