Perseverance Perseverance: An Act of Faith

Posted by Ashley Bell on April 18, 2019 in Contributing Author, Faith, Unite, Build, Live

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 BellAshley Bell

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. 

8 comments... (add a comment)

  1. Joy

    You speak to my soul! Thank you for sharing!!! Now you must watch the Dawn Wall. Anyway…my body does fail me. Sometimes my mind and hormones do too. It reminds me to stick to the path set before me. Anchor into the footholds He provides. And persevere with a hope that I will overcome the challenge — by His grace. ❤️

  2. Ashley

    Thanks Joy! I actually watched Dawn Wall directly after watching Free Solo….soooo gooood! Tommy Caldwell, who makes several appearances in Free Solo is actually a very good friend of Alex. What I loved about Dawn Wall is that it shows that perseverance is not only about the mental fortitude of individuals, but it’s also about community. We weren’t meant to go at alone…in fact the process is far more enjoyable with a friend. Not to mention that most of the time our strength…even our mental strength may wane, however when that happens the support, prayer, and resources of our Communities is what makes individual perseverance possible.

  3. What a heartening message… Perseverance that’s more than physical, that’s sourced from beyond ourselves. That tells us, yes we can persevere. That reminds us of our goal. I am grateful for your thoughts today!

  4. Lizzie Ng

    So good, Ashley! Thanks for sharing. That documentary sounds intense and works as an illustration that’s going to stick with me.

  5. Ashley

    Thanks Andi! I am constantly reminding myself of these truths daily. I need to lift more mental and spiritual weights.

  6. Ashley

    You’re welcome Lizze! You should watch both Free Solo and Dawn Wall…you would love them. Blessings friend!

  7. Connie Armerding

    So good Ash! I needed this reminder that perseverance is an act of faith. I come to the end of myself quickly. Thankful that with God their is no end. Thanks for sharing your gift and perspective. Love you!

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