More on Perseverance
Jesus says to “stay awake” (or “be on your guard”) at least six times in Mark 13, as we saw in Sunday’s sermon. Given the fact that this command comes in the context of persecution and waiting, Jesus is teaching us on the topic of perseverance.
Staying awake means keeping on. It means to beware of spiritual preoccupation and distraction. It means to be vigilant about Jesus’s realness, to be awake to what is.
And that is precisely what burdens try to eclipse. Burdens block our view of Jesus, and when we’re not looking to him, they just get heavier. And of course we don’t want this to happen. Who wants heavier burdens? The problem, though, is that it’s not so easy to give them up, and we’re ina bittova bind . . .
the burdens keep us from grasping the realness of Jesus, and yet if we’re not grasping the realness of Jesus then how can we let the burdens go?
Well, this is what perseverance is all about.
One morning last week I was meditating through the Book of Hebrews and the Spirit spoke this truth to me. It’s in Hebrews 4:14–16. Check it out:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The two commands are in bold, in verses 14 and 16. These commands sound different, but we know they’re related because they’re both rooted in the same ground.
It goes like this, in paraphrase:
The same rationale for both commands — that Jesus is our high priest — presses us to probe more into the commands' relation to one another. How is holding fast our confession similar to drawing near to receive mercy and grace?
Now this is that moment in Bible meditation when we start the actual meditation part. It’s been all Bible up to now, but at this point I’m lingering over the truth, and I’m asking and praying and seeking to understand, Jesus, what do you want me to know here? What do you have for my soul here? For today?
Holding fast our confession is the same as drawing near to receive mercy and grace.
We persevere by asking for help.
Do you get it?
Perseverance doesn’t mean the absence of burdens; it means we give our burdens to Jesus, and we fight to give them to him even when our vision is blurred. We know his throne is a throne of grace. It is. It absolutely is. So run to that throne like mad, and run with confidence, and in defiance to how clouded things might feel, throw the burdens down. Let them go. Drop them. And then breathe. And then do it again, and then a million more times until the day you see Jesus face to face.
Perseverance is asking for help, because he does. And we’re really going to see him.