I remember when my son first learned to walk. I sat on the floor for weeks prior with my arms stretched out, a big smile on my face, looking into his eyes, and speaking encouraging words like “You can do it!” and “Come to Mama!” and “You’re such a big boy now!” He’d stand still for a few seconds, thinking long and hard about taking that step, and then fall to his knees and crawl to me. Or, he’d grab the coffee table and cruise on his feet while keeping a tight grip on the ledge. After weeks of repeating this event multiple times a day, he finally took his first steps, but they weren’t graceful at all. His gait resembled Frankenstein for the first few days, and then he began to lower his arms and gain balance. After a week, he was walking steadily, and after a few more weeks, he was running everywhere he went.
We talk a lot about “next steps” at Grace. Why do we emphasize this so much? Why is it important to us that you take a next step? We believe that every person has a next step. Whether you’re not yet a follower of Jesus or you’ve been a Christian for half a century or more, there’s a next step for you.
But what is it that keeps us taking next steps, one after the other, day after day?
Perseverance is steadfastness in doing or achieving something despite the difficulty, obstacles, and/or delay in the goal’s success. It is more than simple persistence and determination, although it helps to have both.
We can gain momentum in our spiritual life, but perseverance is what keeps us going. Perseverance is not only taking a next step, but another, and another, and as many as necessary until we are walking with Christ on a continual basis. Perseverance is the maintenance of momentum.
What does perseverance look like in our daily lives?
- It’s continuing to read your Bible, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s making a way to listen to the Bible on your phone when you can’t sit down and read it. It’s praying when it doesn’t come naturally to you.
- It’s committing to attend church each week. It’s worshipping with other believers. It’s letting the significance of communion sink deeply into your heart and mind.
- It’s signing up for our NEXT classes. It’s finding a Grace Community and sticking with it, even when it’s hard on your schedule. It’s joining a Men’s Theology class or a Women’s Bible Study.
- It’s scheduling an appointment with our Care and Counseling Center when you need to talk to someone one-on-one.
- It’s staying a little bit longer after worship to meet someone new, or talk a bit longer with a friend.
- It’s choosing to serve in graceKIDS!or Guest Services or another part of Team Grace.
Hebrews 2:1 warns us to pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. What causes us to drift? Idleness. Passivity. We do nothing, and we drift. Drifting happens unintentionally. It’s rarely the result of actively rejecting God, but rather the natural consequence of not intentionally following Him. To drift is to be passively pulled away. Apathy, indifference, and idleness are the opposite of perseverance.
Being a Christian is never about what we do or don’t do, because Jesus’ finished work on the cross has already accomplished the full work of salvation for us. He has saved us by grace, through faith. It is a gift of God, not the result of our works (Ephesians 2:8-9). God doesn’t need our efforts or Next Steps.
As believers, we have the Holy Sprit within us, who creates a hunger for holiness and godliness. The Holy Spirit plays a vital role in enabling us to persevere in our Christian walk and leads us in our Next Steps, or our sanctification. Romans 8:14 reminds us that those “who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
Taking next steps toward Christ requires hard work on our part, but we don’t do it alone. The Holy Spirit produces within us both the desire and the ability to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness.
What is perseverance? It’s taking next steps toward Christ — one step at a time, one after another, again and again. It’s actively choosing not to drift, but to put one foot in front of the other and so pursue godliness.
Just like my son learned to crawl, walk, and then run, we can have great confidence that taking a next step toward Christ will lead to another, and another, and another. Let us not become weary, Grace. We are not alone. Let us persevere together as we gain momentum and move toward Christlikeness.