• Vision & Perseverance

    6 May, 2018

    How many of you followed the recent Commonwealth Games held in the Gold coast last month or caught glimpses of it? There were some great victories by Team Australia. Of the victories, there were three individuals who stood out for me.

    Chloe Hoskings of the Australian Women’s Cycling team who won Gold in the Womens Road Race,  Australia’s Marathon runner Michael Shelley the Gold medallist in the Men’s marathon and Australian Paralympian  Kurt Fearnley – who won Gold in the Paralympic Men’s T54 marathon.

    When you watch races like these, the focus although at first, is not on the distance (which by the way is 42.195km) but on how the athlete handles the challenges being thrown at him or her or the pressures of how the body is coping. In the midst of the hurdles and the challenges (one being the scorching gold coast heat), tired bodies and sore muscles, they were each focused on one goal, one vision and that is to win!

    When you have a vision, it is something that sticks with you. It builds determination and courage to see it through. But it is getting to the vision that requires perseverance.

    Paralympic Gold Medalist Kurt Fearnley was quoted as saying “I promised I would give the marathon "everything I've got" admitting he had dreamt of winning the race since it was first confirmed on the Games schedule.

    Eight years ago Kurt Feranley knew that this was going to be his last race for Australia and as he said “he never wavered, even last night lying in my bed.”

    The papers reported that despite fatigue setting in, Fearnley's lead extended to at the 35km mark as he edged closer to the finish. This man persevered he could see the vision that he had had worked so hard for in sight.

    Marathon runner, Michael Shelley was quoted as saying “he was almost gone before the finish line but he knew gold was in reach as he edged closer to the finish line.”

    Chloe Hoskings, Gold medallist for the Women’s road race was in hospital 12 days before the race but she was determined to go out there and win gold. She had won a Bronze medal back in Delhi but her vision was to win gold! She did!

    Perseverance – the underlying character that was portrayed by all 3 athletes.

    The Collins dictionary defines perseverance as the quality of continuing something even though it is difficult.” The Quality of continuing something not the quantity. It’s not the time spent to reach your vision, it is more in the what you do during this time to reach your vision. The quality of the time from when the vision was first conceptualised to it being realised. How do you handle the challenges and trials that come while you pursue your vision? Challenges as in the form of opposition, negativity, naysayers and the list goes on.

    The bible says in Luke 22:41-44 (NIV version) that Jesus prayed; “FATHER IF YOU ARE WILLING, TAKE THIS CUP FROM ME, YET NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS BE DONE. AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN APPEARED TO HIM AND STRENGTHENED HIM. AND BEING IN ANGUISH, HE PRAYED MORE EARNESTLY AND HIS SWEAT WAS LIKE DROPS OF BLOOD FALLING TO THE GROUND.”

    Jesus portrayed the very characteristic of perseverance in perhaps one of his toughest moments on this earth.  He knew what was coming, he knew his time on earth as a man was coming to an end. However, despite what He knew He persevered to the end to fulfil the vision. As the scriptures says in Luke, “And being in anguish, he prayed MORE earnestly.” You’ve got to go through some pain to get to your vision.

    Think about it for a moment. When you have a vision, there is a lot that needs to be done in order for the vision to come to pass. It could be a personal vision or a collective vision. Circumstances may occur but the Vision remains. Vision requires work and most of all perseverance so as to overcome the trials and tribulations that will come.

    Yes the challenges will come as they are inevitable but press in to the Lord, persevere in prayer believing for that vision to be realised. I love how Bishop TD Jakes put it in relation to life’s challenges “because we live in a fallen world, we will never be storm free, but we are storm proof in Jesus name.”

    God the Father from the very beginning had a vision.  His vision? To create man so that He could have fellowship with Him. But the vision all changed when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit or….. did it? If you thought it has stayed the same, you’re correct. God’s vision from the beginning till today remains the same in that despite man’s fall from Grace, He restored the vision through His son Jesus Christ so that He could continue to have fellowship with us. Even after Jesus ascended to Heaven, we still have fellowship with Him through Holy Spirit. The vision remains!

    I can’t even begin to imagine the pressure Jesus felt as time of His crucifixion was fast approaching as he prayed “Father take this cup from me yet not my will be done but yours” He was in essence saying, “Father, if I am part of your vision, I am going to see this through with your help. I’m trusting you Father, Have your way in my life. Let it be your will and not mine. Here was a man who chose to persevere despite the pain, the hurt and the angst so that the vision of God would be realised.”

    As I pondered on this, I thought to myself, if God’s vision is to have fellowship with mankind, then to re-establish this vision he did this by sacrificing His only son. Then as the Body of Christ, as children of the most high God, as the called, “what then is God’s vision for us?”

    Matthew 28:19-20 contains what has been called the Great Commission. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is what Jesus asked the disciples to do shortly before he ascended into Heaven. It is the vision of the Father, His expectation not only of the disciples back then but of us today in His absence. This is our collective vision as a Body of Christ. So that God can have fellowship with every man, woman and child.

    On a personal note, you may also have a vision for yourself, a vision for your children, grand-children, your parents, grandparents, friends, your bosses, your neighbours and the list goes on. Can I encourage you to Persevere and never give up? God knows best if you just choose to surrender this to Him. As Pastor Grant once said “God answers prayers. He will never not answer your prayer. It will either be yes or a no. Regardless it will be answered. Our role as a child of God is to persevere in Him.

    Once a very lost and broken girl, I stand before you as the fruit of a mother’s prayer who persevered and never gave up despite the number of headaches and stress I must have given her. Now I too have fellowship with God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. If you’ve been in prayer for a child, a friend, a colleague, like the athletes keep on going. Persevere! Hold on! It may be longer than the 42.195km but remember its not how long it’s taking to see your prayer being answered it is what you do while pursuing the vision. “Keep on praying and never give up.”

    The scriptures in Romans 5:3 of the NKJV puts it like this, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance and perseverance produces character and character, hope.

    The first president of the United States George Washington once said that has forever been etched in many hearts and used in many lecture rooms and speeches and it is this “Where there is NO vision, there is No hope.”

    The vision is that we will continue to have fellow with God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit is here with us to empower us to persevere in reaching the vision.

    This morning we come together to remind ourselves of the vision that was established at the beginning of time. We come together around communion to be reminded how Jesus persevered on our behalf so that the vision would stay intact. So as we partake of this bread that represents His body and the juice that represents His blood, let us Press In, Let us Persevere towards the vision of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Ema Volovola [Communion 6th May 2018]