Increase Your Ability to Persevere
I told my friend I was going to a football game the other night. She’s Miss Sports, so she joked that maybe I was turning over a new leaf of athleticism.
“No,” I said. “Because I seriously considered asking Matt if he would mind if I took my Kindle to the game.”
I read books, and I do it very well. I can even read while flossing, turning Kindle pages with my pinky. I console myself that this is an enviable fine motor skill.
I used to read for entertainment. Mom would take me regularly to the Ben Franklin’s department store downtown, and I would look eagerly for the next novel in the Trixie Beldon mystery series. I was in love with the character Jim, I confess.
But one day, a few decades ago, I decided I should start reading on purpose and not just for fun.
I started looking for books that would help me grow in my relationship with the Lord. In particular, I began to choose stories of people who loved God with all of their hearts. Looking back, I would say these people became, in my mind, the great cloud of witnesses talked about in Hebrews 12:1:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
We are surrounded by people who have lived with their eyes fixed on Jesus, and we can leverage the testimony of their experiences to boost our own ability to persevere. Their stories can help us build our own stories of unwavering faith.
First the Bible stories, where we see unbreakable friendship in David and Jonathon, unbending faith in Daniel, and courage in Esther. Then we can pile on stories of missionaries and of others who have pushed through danger and exhaustion and discouragement in their love for the Lord.
The latest book on my kindle is written by Jennifer Ebenhack. It’s called In a Sunscorched Land: A Memoir of Adoption, Faith, and The Moving of Haiti’s Mountains. Jennifer has taken her seat as a witness, speaking of the value in fixing one’s eyes on Jesus. Her words have spoken perseverance to me, and I find myself pushing through some hard things because I saw how she did it. Braving years of struggle in Haiti, to adopt her kids and to endure physical and spiritual hardship and danger, Jen shows us how to keep going with the Lord, even when nothing makes sense. I recommend her story to you. (It had me turning pages as fast as my pinky could go.)
“Jesus is worth it,” the witnesses say.
So my question for you: Are you filling your mind with people’s stories of persevering faith?
I would love to hear your book suggestions. What’s one person’s story you’ve read that has helped you keep your eyes on Jesus?
I, too, loved the Trixie Belden books and have even collected quite a number for my daughters! I’ve always been an avid reader and have a large collection of books – my husband is not amused when I say I need yet another bookshelf! There are a number of books by a Russian pastor imprisoned for years, Georgi Vins. Testament from Prison will change your perspective. The one book that made a huge impact on me as a teenager was Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliott. End of the Spear by Steve Saint continues this incredible story.
I’ve never heard of Georgi Vins. Adding that to my list of someday reads -thanks!
It’s been yrs-decades even-but “The Cross and The Switchblade” is a tough, gritty, amazing story…that impressed much on my young faith about the far reach of God’s hand.
Oh wow -that was a powerful book. I should go back and read that again. It’s been a lot of years!
Oh Gosh…where to begin? I was firmly a Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames girl growing up, and I still wish there was more time to read “for fun” AS WELL AS reading for inspiration and guidance. I put the “fun” books on the back burner and that pile keeps getting bigger. The Hiding Place was life changing for me years ago, when I first discovered it and I have The Sun Scorched Land waiting in the wings. Most recently, the book that breathed life into me was Michele Cushatt’s Undone, Making Peace with an Imperfect Life. There were sentences and imagery in that book that took my breath away. For example “A boat anchored to itself is not anchored at all”. How’s that for a picture of how we cannot depend on ourselves when the storms of life hit us?
I was on Michele’s launch team for that book, and it was very encouraging. I thought she had powerful images, too! I’m happy to see that she’s recovering and back to her speaking career now.
Reckless Faith: Let Go and Be Led by Beth Guckenberger changed everything about what I thought faith was, but more importantly, God used this book to change my beliefs about faith. Be warned….this is the kind of faith that Peter had when he stepped out of the boat, but God!! He comes through every single time.
I hadn’t heard of that, but I went to Amazon to check it out. It sounds really good -plus I’m a Spanish teacher, so a Mexico setting is intriguing. Thanks for the recommendation!
Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place” has inspired me probably more than any other book!
No kidding. That book is definitely on the top of my list for life-changing reads. I never forget her sister thanking God for the lice.
I loved the Trixie Belden books as a teenager (OK, the BWG’s are still good friends of mine)! Mart fueled my love of words, but Brian had my heart. lol I look forward to reading In a Sun-Scorched Land; it sounds fantastic.
I have long enjoyed reading Joni Eareckson Tada’s books. She continues to inspire me to persevere through difficulties, to keep turning to Jesus when things get hard, and to keep a song of praise on my lips when what I want to do is complain, or whine, or just give up.
You know, I forgot about reading Joni Eareckson’s book about her neck injury. That definitely had a great impoact on me when I was younger.
Heavenly Man by Brother Yun. Tortured for Christ and Extreme Devotion by Voice of The Martyrs. I am so grateful for testimony books, they are a gift to me from God.
I tried reading Tortured for Christ, but I was so disturbed that my husband took it away from me. What I did read definitely comes to mind often, though. It changes my perspective.
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