OUR LORD's LESSON on PERSEVERANCE by Kimberley Demmitt I feel Led by Him to share His Lesson about perseverance. In general, our Lord Reminds us that the Higher the Calling, the longer & more arduous the preparation time, whereas the Grander the Promise, the more the tenacity that is required in our perseverance. *The biggest Blessings will always occur in a magnitude that is directly proportional to the degree of difficulties in attaining Them. *So, please,*do not quit *-- no matter how long you have waited, how painful it has been, or what mistakes you may have made along the way. Trust our Lord's Love enough to believe that He would never allow any of His Beloved Children to be cruelly deceived for endless years by a delusion -- no one who sincerely seeks to know Him or His Will can ever be led astray. We must*choose*to be deceived. The Faith Walk is not for the faint-hearted or the shrinking violets. One of the mandatory characteristics, which our Lord will develop through His Character within us, is that of *fierce tenacity in the face of all adversity.* The events & characters in the Bible provide priceless analogies, which our Lord will happily Teach each one of us through the Agency of the Holy Spirit. For perseverance, an excellent illustration is presented in the Book of Genesis (Chapter 32), in which Jacob wrestles with the Angel all night long until dawn. Here is what our Lord Showed me to learn from this chapter: At the time of this event, Jacob was returning to his homeland for the first time after 20 years of self-imposed exile... In spite of our Lord's assurances that He would be with Jacob when He instructed him to return to his homeland, Jacob did what we all have a tendency to do -- he tried to act in his own power to secure his brother's favor by sending him a conciliatory message of subservience & an offering of livestock & servants. This he did because he was unwilling to relinquish his fear & trust our Lord to Keep His Word to Protect him -- like us, he wrestled with the doubts of whether or not he had understood our Lord correctly, & he felt helpless unless he tried to do something, himself, to "help God out"... just in case God Forgot about him, perhaps. However, his conciliatory gesture was met with silence -- & the news that Esau was approaching to meet him head on with 400 men. That was not encouraging -- & it sure didn't sound like he was under any Divine Protection. If God had Blessed him, then why was Esau coming against him with 400 men? Cold terror compounded the years of guilt as Jacob realized that he had no army with him & could not withstand any assaults inaugurated by Esau. So, in that long lonely night of isolation, Jacob felt himself collapse helplessly to the ground as the crippling waves of guilt & terror brought him almost to the point of hysteria, & he feared that our Lord had Abandoned him & Revoked all Blessings because of his deception & for his failure to totally trust our Lord when he was assured that the Divine Presence would be with him upon his return. Feeling as though he had thoroughly messed up everything on all counts, Jacobplunged into the most wretched depths of despair that any human being can ever experience. As he cried out to God, he felt a strong hand upon his shoulder. Thus ensued a grim struggle for mastery without a single word being uttered between Jacob and the stranger. As dawn approached, the stranger placed a finger on Jacob's thigh & crippled him instantly, possibly by dislocating the hip joint. At that point, Jacob recognized that his opponent was no ordinary mortal, but an Angel --& that recognition brought to mind the promises of forgiveness and blessing that our Lord had given him. So, in spite of the desperate turmoil in his heart and the agonizing physical pain, Jacob clung to the Angel & refused to let go. As dawn was arriving, the Angel commanded Jacob to release him, but Jacob groaned, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me". This was not declared in a petulant, arrogant, demanding spirit, but rather it was the cry from the soul's depths of one who recognized his errors & God's Mercy, & who was now desperately entreating God for His Promises, in spite of his own unworthiness. Even though he was in agony in all levels of his being & maintaining his grip on the Angel required every ounce of his mortal life force, Jacob persisted in hanging on & would have done so even if it had meant dying in the process. His perseverance was rewarded, for the Angel symbolically removed the stain of his sin by declaring,*"Thy name shall be called no more Jacob (the deceiver/supplanter), but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed"* (Genesis 32: 28). Thus Jacob's long night of personal hell was more than amply Rewarded -- not only was his original sin against Esau officially removed in the change of his name to the princely "Israel," but Esau's heart was also moved by our Lord's loving Spirit to greet his brother with a weeping embrace instead of combat. Because of Jacob's perseverance throughout the long struggle, the emotional & physical pain, & his acute awareness of his own failures and sense of unworthiness, our Lord did far more than merely honor His Promise to Jacob. By his new name of Israel, he was forever immortalized by a nation of people that still exists many centuries later. The Lesson our Lord Wishes for us to derive from Jacob's account is One of Perseverance, no matter how dark & despairing things may appear. We are to cling to our Lord at all costs & let nothing loosen that grip -- not pain, not failure, not weariness from the length of time spent in holding on, & not even our own mistakes and sense of unworthiness. None of us has ever "earned" anything from our Lord -- He Gives to us because He Loves us & because He Wants to Give Good Things to His Children, not because of how "good" we are or how "holy," "religious," or "perfect" we are. Even if we make errors throughout our long wait, He will always Honor His Word to us because that is His Love & Grace "In Action," & He is All Perfection. So, if we remember that our Lord is always Faithful to "Come Through" for us (even if not necessarily on our time-table) & we emulate the tenacity of Jacob in our perseverance to hang onto Him until He Blesses us, He will surely justify such faith in the long run & prove that no one who puts his or her trust in Him shall ever be ashamed (see *Romans 10:11)-- especially those of you who have given Him your entire lives for many, many years.