The picture above is from a backpacking trip along the Ozark Highlands Trail in March of 2019. The large boulder had sheared off a cliff and settled on the valley floor far below. We were all thankful we were not there when it fell!
At some point, a small seed found its way into a crack in the rock. Eventually a sapling sprouted and began its relentless effort to find sunlight. As the sapling matured into a tree, it split the massive boulder in half.
As I stood looking at this incomprehensible feat of strength, the only word that came to mind was persistence. For years this small tree had been persistent, struggling to find nutrients and sunlight in the small crack.
Slowly fighting against the constant pressure of the rock, expanding, twisting and stretching, it worked its way through the massive bolder. Suddenly, by absolute persistence, the strength of rock gave way and the tree was free to grow.
This little tree undoubtedly faced many challenges in its quest. At times it desperately needed water or struggled for sunlight. The word persistence carries the thought of challenges to overcome. Ease never requires persistence.
This hike required a great deal of persistence. As the trail wound its way through the Boston Mountains, every mile saw elevation changes of up to seventeen hundred feet.
The uphill climbs required persistence as sore legs complained. The jarring downhill sections were no different as the weight of the pack took a toll on knees and ankles. But through persistence we arrived at our goal.
Our lives are filled with challenges that can be overcome only through persistence.
In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus presents the parable of the Persistent Widow.
In ancient Palestine, judges traveled from city to city. They would set up a tent in the gates of the city and the people would come to present their case. Often these judges were very corrupt and the only way to have your case heard was to present the judge with a bribe.
Women in this day had no legal status to be heard by a judge. This persistent widow followed the judge from city to city pleading to be heard. Finally, because of her persistence, the judge agreed to hear her case.
Jesus likened this widow’s persistence to our prayer life. The judge heard her case because she did not faint when all looked lost. She never fainted in her persistence to stand before the judge and see justice.
The purpose of the parable is to help us understand that if an unjust judge would hear a woman with no legal rights or standing before the law, how much more will a Loving God hear and answer the prayers of those He loves!
When our prayers “seem to” go unanswered, sometimes for years, we need to remember, what we see as denials or delays, are God’s time of preparation in our lives. That alone should encourage our persistence in prayer. We can have confidence that God is preparing an answer to our prayers that will exceed our wildest dreams!
He will provide us with the strength to break the rock that is keeping us from having the abundant life He has planned for us. Let’s be persistent in seeking it!