A Great Blue Heron
“… let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
This Great Blue Heron stood staring into the river for what seemed like hours. He never lost hope as he patiently watched for his meal, and his perseverance eventually produced satisfaction. He is a reminder that patience, stamina, and the confidence of good endings are characteristics of a life of faith.
Christian belief is more than an intellectual conviction that there is a God or an assent to a system of doctrines. Authentic Christian faith encompasses the whole person and involves one’s will and emotions as well as the mind. It entails trusting and submitting to what God has revealed and has done through the sacrifice of Christ, and it is evidenced in desires and efforts to live out the love and mercy and forgiveness granted through the Good News of Christ. Fidelity and confidence sustain it. The Apostle Peter encourages us to “… make every effort to supplement your faith ……with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love…..” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
One’s faith journey isn’t always easy. Our fallen world, our personal brokenness, and our culture constantly conspire to chip away at our devotion.”Bumps in the road”, hardships, and other sufferings are adversaries that lead to doubtful minds. Educational experiences slant us toward humanism; peer pressure encourages cultural norms that conflict with faith standards; inadequate spiritual mentoring and teaching leave us spiritually wanting. These things and others oppose our faith but don’t necessarily deliver the knockout punch! In fact, the converse can be true; the worst and harshest of troubles, oppression, and antagonists potentially produce and purify faith. “..suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (Romans 5:3-4)
Suffering is a refiner! Job would verify that. He lost family, wealth and health but knew that God was present in his sorrow. And although God’s purposes were unknown to Job, they somehow were of great value to God and would be to Job. Job’s conclusion was: “But (God) knows the way that I take; When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Centuries later, James concurred and continues to speak truth to believers of all centuries: “… for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:3-4)
So, endurance through adversity and opposition is crucial for a successful faith-run which is worked out in the context and encouragement of Christ himself, ”I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
Meet Chris Mace
Christopher Mace graduated from Bowdoin College and Tufts University School of Medicine. Served as a Navy Doctor in Vietnam and has practiced medicine in Downeast Maine since 1970. He is now an Elder at United Baptist Church in Ellsworth Maine. Chris is the author of two books, Listening to God and Dancing with God. You can read more from Chris here: http://sweetwordsfrommaine.music.blog/. He is married and has four children and three grand children.