“A man needs regular chores and a regular time to do them. Otherwise he loses the order of his life.” –Elmer Kelton (The Man Who Rode Midnight)
“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” –Proverbs 12:11 (NIV)
Sometimes pretty words just don’t get a person through the situation. Sometimes when the rains come you just have to hunker down. Think of the pioneers moving West. The storms came and it was too muddy to stay under the wagons, and the canvas cover was soaked and leaking. It was a miserable situation. The ground was turning into a muddy bog and it would be days before they would be able to continue on with their journey, maybe longer if the streams they had to cross did not subside. Then, in the back of their minds, they had the concern that with too long a delay they might not make it across the mountains before the snow came and closed the passes, or that they may get caught in a storm in those rugged mountains.
They longed for that land of promise for which they had started months ago. They had faced their share of troubles and toil, of sorrow and death, of sickness and pain, of heartache and trials. They wondered if it would never end. They wondered if they would make it. How much further, how much more trouble, how many more must die? The words of the old hymn were no longer just words, but had become reality to them.
“No chilling winds nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness, sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.” (Samuel Stennet)
Oh to be at that place of rest where fears, torment, and testing will be over. With the exuberance of the prospect of the trip now gone; with the excitement now waning away, two things remained: hope and determination. Turn back? Hardly, they had come too far to turn back now. There were too many miles behind them.
No, the mud and storms will not stop them. Even those howling winds and torrential downpours caused by the storms of life will not impede the continuation of their trek. There will be more obstacles ahead, but they will be faced by the same dogged tenacity that brought them thus far. The enemy means to destroy along the trail, but instead faith has grown along with their trust in the heavenly Father. These folk were “bound for the promised land.”
Faith, courage, self-mastery, and now there must be added steadfastness. We often think of steadfastness as patience, but it is more than patience. Within steadfastness there is always a forward look. The Roman orator Cicero said this of steadfastness. It is, “the voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honor and usefulness.”
To be steadfast means to hold on and look for tomorrow. It means to be useful today, so that tomorrow can come. Barclay writes that “It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmitting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way.” Steadfastness has the qualities of endurance and faithfulness.
Okay, okay, a few more words from the sower and harvester of seed.
“Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.”
“Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”
“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.”