How far are you prepared to go?

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Luke 16:8 “…the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

We use the word “perseverance” to describe holding on tight, in order to have what you want. This is probably one of the first things you learned in your life. You can see this in a little baby. A baby will cry with persevering determination in order to be picked up and cuddled. When they become toddlers, the same grit and determination is evident when they want to hold onto toys that another child may want.

Perseverance is something the world admires, even when it has no real eternal purpose. Just as Jesus said, “the children of this world, are in their generation, wiser than the children of light.” In other words, the world is more determined to get what they want, for something that has no lasting value, than God’s children are for things that last forever.

In the United States Navy, there is a very disciplined squad of men called “Seals”. They are the US Navy’s version of the British SAS. The training the men go through is very rigid, and only the most determined men make it through to the end. The ninth week of SEAL training is referred to as Hell Week. It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the Mud Flats. The Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slues—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on the Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing-cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure from the instructors to quit. As the sun begins to set, the training officer looks for some insignificant infraction of the rules, and orders the men into the mud. The mud consumes each man till there is nothing visible but their heads. The instructors inform them they could leave the mud if only five men would quit the training program. All that was required, was five men to give up, and the rest could get out of the oppressive cold.

This is what one man said of his ordeal in the mud. “Looking around the mud flat, it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up; eight more hours of bone-chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything. And then, one voice began to echo through the night; one voice raised in song. The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm. One voice became two, and two became three, and before long everyone in the class was singing. We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing; but the singing persisted. And somehow, the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.” Needless to say, their determination and perseverance paid off.

The world is full of such stories, and they are all admirable. There is the determination of George Washington, the first American President. The determination of the British at the battle of Waterloo. The tenacity of Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela. Even a young girl from Pakistan named Malala can be admired for her determination to persevere in winning rights for girls to obtain an education in the Muslim world.

These are all things the world admires. People can be determined in all kinds of things that ultimately, in the end, have no eternal value. They receive awe and admiration from others. They are written up in worldly annals, and receive awards & honours. In the end, it is only God who pronounces the true worth of sacrifice and dedication. It is simply worth bearing in mind that perseverance is possible in things that don’t count. And if that is so, shouldn’t it be worth our while to decide while we are young, to give our lives for something that does count? Just as Jesus said, “the children of this world, are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” Thank God, we can be saved by faith alone, but our faith needs to be exercised to lead us on to do great things for our Generous and Loving Heavenly Father and our faithful Savour, Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless you in your perseverance.