I have been surprised and saddened at the brevity of some Christian lives and ministry. For example, the number of people who enter ministry and are still there 3 years later is staggeringly low.
David and I retired 2 years ago after 36 years in full time ministry and almost 60 years as Christians. It set me thinking what characteristics aid longevity and endurance. Of course I could say, and I do, that it is the keeping power and grace of God, but I hope you understand me, when I say that same grace and power is there for all of us. So how do we tap into this power and endure through the years?
For me, a great key to persevering has been hearing and receiving a word from God. I think it is true to say, nothing compares with the strength that such a word can bring into our lives.
We need to hear from God for our calling. It is not sufficient to have compassion; we have to know deep within us that we have been ‘called’. It is especially true when those on whom we have compassion, reject us and our ministry! Not an unusual occurrence!
But also hearing from God to sustain, encourage, envision, direct and support us brings massive internal spiritual strength to stand in the face of difficulties, trials and simply weariness.
Some years ago at a difficult time in our ministry, three different people gave us Zechariah 4.6. ‘Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord.’
Just a short time later David was at work and I had spent much of the morning praying and seeking God. Much of my prayer centred around my fear of failing, failing God, failing the people of New Life and Hull.
That evening, knowing nothing of my inner turmoil, David came home and said,
“Remember that verse we were given in Zechariah, today I read it in the Good News Bible. It says, ‘You will succeed, not by military might or by your own strength but by my Spirit.’”
Within a matter of hours, God had taken this woman’s ‘fear of failing’ and turned it into ‘You will succeed.’
That promise sustained us then and has since helped us to endure through many disappointments and setbacks to a place of fruitfulness.
To this very day, some twenty years later, we continue to use that verse to counteract attacks and discouragements.
‘Lord you have said, we will succeed!’
Psalms tell us ‘He has exalted above all things His name and His Word.’