Perseverance: An Act of Faith
Most people who know me, know that I like the Golden Girls. There are few things that come between me and an evening spent giggling with Dorothy, Rose, Sophia, and Blanche. However, the other night I was feeling inspired to get out of my old routine and change it up with a good ole’ documentary.
At the time I had no idea that my choice would provide inspiration for this post.
Netflix wins again.
Free Solo is about professional rock climber Alex Honnold’s journey to be the first person to free solo climb El Capitan’s 900-metre vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park. And he did it! In about four hours time.
I still can’t believe he did it…amazing!
For my fellow non-rock climbers, a free solo climb is when someone, hopefully a professional climber, climbs alone without using ropes, harnesses, or protective equipment. Insane, right?
As unbelievable as it might seem, a free solo climber relies entirely on their ability to persevere. This requires physical skill, and a well mapped out strategy to scale unthinkable surfaces, at unfathomable heights. As I watched Alex prepare to climb El Capitan, I was reminded that physical strength can only take us so far on the journey that God has set before us.
Free Solo heralds a message that every professing Christian needs to be reminded of:
It takes more than physicality to persevere through life’s challenges.
More often than not, what gets left out of our Sunday morning sermons, small group conversations, and book clubs is the importance of long suffering and self-control, and the role they play in building perseverance.
Perseverance is mental fortitude.
You know, the kind of grit that makes us wanna holla, “Oh, hell yeah, I CAN and BRING IT ON!”
Perseverance isn’t something we acquire by accident. It’s an intentional act of faith. We persevere, because we know that God is greater than our present situation, and that He has something much greater waiting for us on the other side. Perseverance, just like faith keeps us going when everything else around us is screaming “STOP…WAIT, YOU CAN’T!”
Anyone who has been through or is currently in the midst of anything that has rendered their body out of their control can testify to the reality that when physicality fails, the only thing that’s left is the ability to persevere. To mentally wrestle and conquer the shame, pride, fear, and doubt that stand in the way of us completing our God-given assignments.
The day-after-day practice of perseverance was what Paul, the great Roman soldier/Jewish scholar, murderer turned evangelist, wrote about in the face of adversity.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
Paul knew that with the disheartening complexities of this world it would be vital for the people of God to cling to the power and strength that the resurrection of Jesus provides. The gift of the Holy Spirit that has been imparted to us brings fortitude and provides strength to persevere through anything.
“Free soloing is almost as old as climbing itself, with roots in the 19th century. Climbers are continuing to push the boundaries. There are certainly better technical climbers than me. But if I have a particular gift, it’s a mental one – the ability to keep it together where others might freak out.” —Alex Honnold
Ashley Bell was born and raised in a little town in Virginia and moved to Portland in 2007 to attend Seminary at Multnomah University. After graduating she moved to Tallahassee, Florida. However, in 2012 the Lord so graciously provided for her to return to Portland to begin working at Multnomah, while getting another master’s in education. Ashley currently works at Portland Rescue Mission – Shepherd’s Door as the Equipping Manager. Ashley believes that discipleship is not only an essential part of our relationship with Jesus, but it is also essential in the process of becoming astute, kind, loving, citizens, that are committed to engaging relationally, and lovingly with present social realities. Her greatest desire is to be an accurate reflection of the grace and love of Jesus Christ to everyone she encounters.