Perseverance

Lately I’ve been listening to the YouVersion app reading of the Bible. I seem to have developed some lessened concentration to read in my middle-to-oldish age, so I thought I’d try listening for a while. Plus, listening helps me get through the name lists and all those instructions and commands. I’m sure there are people who eat that stuff up, but my eyes just glaze over. No offense.

So, I’m chilling listening to Exodus and I have to say, Exodus brought back memories of reading Moby Dick. That book started off interestingly enough and then you trudge through 500 pages of more whaling information than you could ever possibly want to know. Then the last five pages is where all the action takes place. It was actually a pretty good storytelling device for that particular yarn. If you don’t skip through all that 500 pages of tedium, by the end of the book, you should be feeling Ahab’s mania — ohmygosh, just find that dang whale already would you?

Early in Exodus Moses is born into a rather perilous time in Israel’s history and then you get the whole “let my people go” and plagues and death and escape part. Exciting stuff. Then out of nowhere, you run into seven or eight chapters of requirements on how to make and do stuff. To me, very dry reading. 

My impression, without studying any of the vast amount of subject information out there, is this sets up a teeny tiny reflection of the mood of the story that will be told. I don’t agree with how the people acted, I’m just saying eight chapters of blah, blah, blah and I’m just like, can we get on with it?

In roughly 40 days we go from…

Ex 24:3 “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.”
Ex 24:9 Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 elders of Israel climbed up the mountain.
Ex 24:10 gives a description of the guys in verse 10 seeing God and not dying.
Ex 24:11 covenant meal — eating and drinking in God’s presence.
Ex 24:12 Moses called to go up the mountain.
Ex 24: 16 Glory of the Lord settled on the mountain.

Then instructional stuff about…
Offerings for the Tabernacle, plans for the ark of the covenant, plans for the table, plans for the lampstand, plans for the Tabernacle, plans for the altar of burnt offering, plans for the courtyard, light for the Tabernacle, clothing for the priests, design of the ephod, design of the chestpiece, additional clothing for priests, dedication of the priests, plans for the incense altar, money for the tabernacle, plans for the washbasin, the anointing oil, the incense, and the Sabbath, with a sprinkle of info about craftsmen Bezalel and Oholiab.

Yaaawwwnnnn. No offense.

To… “Hey does anyone think Moses is actually coming back?” Moses was gone for 40 whole days. Forty. days.

Ex 32:1 When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us.”
Ex 32:4 Aaron made a gold calf. “When the people saw it, they exclaimed, ‘O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'”
Ex 32:5 Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf.

WHAAATTTT???

Personally I think Aaron, in part, built the altar because he was glad they weren’t stoning him to death — just keep the people happy. 

God is not happy with this development and He goes all “Imma kill ’em” on Moses. Which to me is a perfectly rational parental response when the kids are acting exceedingly idiotic.

These people are hopeless. In matters of human behavior, nationality makes no difference. Mortals like us are so dumb across the board — it’s frightening sometimes. It seriously does not take us long to go astray. 

What is wrong with us? Why do we act like this?

My first thought after taking into account the whole we’re sinful by nature angle is that a good many of us seriously have no perseverance skills. That has been fairly obvious during this dumb pandemic we’ve been going through for two years now. You can tell pretty quickly who is soft and spoiled. Honestly folks who haven’t-had-anything-particularly-bad-happen-to-you-during-this-time, stop being such babies. It’s embarrassing. Use this time to practice getting through annoying stuff, because I guarantee you worse things are going to happen in life. (If you’ve really been dealt some serious life blows during the pandemic, I’m so sorry and pray comfort and peace for you — that sentence above was not for you.)

Developing perseverance is much like developing muscles or one’s immune system — they have to be exercised to strengthen. Very basically, you have to exercise perseverance to develop more perseverance. When you don’t practice, you lack stamina to endure.

I don’t have much advice on how to go about practicing if you need to. Maybe remind yourself of a time God came through for you or you withstood a temptation or you stood your ground on something important or stood up to a bully who then backed down. But, I personally would never recommend you pray for it. Like I said, the only way to strengthen it is to practice it; to endure through. Quite frankly, praying for it is just asking for a gargantuan amount of trouble. Never ask for it, trouble will find you soon enough.

If you don’t hang in like you want while going through something, try not to beat yourself up. Encouragement to try again and discipline to follow through will come in some form or fashion. Little by little, you’ll grow that muscle.

In doing so…
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3,4 NIV

Or as the NLT version says:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

Getting through a challenging journey eventually leads to hope. Not a bad tradeoff when starting from discouragement or despair.

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