We are all persistent in some way. Searching for a new job? Finishing homework? Losing that last ten pounds? Praying everyday? I could go on but the bottom line is when we are working on reaching goals we have set for ourselves we are being persistent.
Three scripture passages come to mind that particularly focus on achieving goals no matter how long it takes. Jacob is a good example. In Genesis chapter 32, we read about Jacob’s encounter with God. While engaging in a wrestling match with God, Jacob will not let go until he has received a blessing. This match goes on all night. Finally God relents and gives him a blessing after He has dislocated Jacob’s hip.
In another passage that comes to mind, St. Paul’s letter to 2 Timothy, Paul encouraged the congregation to keep proclaiming the Good News. He wrote “be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable.” In other words, do not give up and keep at it! Encouraging words that I can imagine this group of people needed to hear.
Lastly, in Luke 18: 1-8 we read about the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. At every opportunity that she had to go in front of the judge she would because she demanded “justice against my opponent.” The judge continued to ignore her until at last she finally wore him down with her persistence. She was granted justice, so that she would no longer appear before the judge.
Now let us look at the parable from Luke from a different angle. Instead of the widow representing us she represents God. The unjust judge then represents you and I. God is always with us and continually calls us and will not leave us alone. In fact, in the history of God’s people, this does seem to be the way God often interacts with humanity. Remember Jonah? He refused to do God’s bidding of telling the people of Nineveh to repent. Tell his enemies to repent?! So Jonah hightails it in the opposite direction and it was not until his encounter with a whale that Jonah is finally convinced to say yes to what God was calling him to do. Also think of St. Paul. He was bound and determine to persecute and eradicate all Christians, until God caught up with him on the road to Damascus.
Doesn’t God sometimes act that way with you and me? Perhaps God is persistent with us when we have strayed from the path. Or perhaps it is not so much that we have strayed, but rather that we have become a bit too comfortable in our relationship with God and we feel a nudging at our hearts to make a deeper commitment. God is always persistent and we cannot help but be drawn to do God’s will eventually. Yes, God is really like the widow.
As long as we live, we will continually hear that small, quiet — and sometimes very loud — voice in our hearts and minds. We will never arrive at the place where we can say, “there, now I have done it all. God will ask no more of me.” That will not happen. Let us then be open, willing and flexible to God’s call. Each time we hear and say “yes, God,” we are becoming more the person God envisions us to be.