Diligence . . . With Attitude!
It happened again this morning. Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, sucked the wind right out of my sails when I read it. Instead of finding within its contents the courage to rise to a greater faith, I came away intimidated, disqualified. Why? Because I was having one of those days. Who could compete with a list of such fathers of the faith and their rich testimonies? These passionate, fiery men and women subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword (vs 33–34). I imagined them living their entire lives in one continual blaze of glory. They were warriors of faith hacking through every obstacle before them while crying out to the next, “Come on . . . give me your best shot!”.
If these superheroes set the standard as those who diligently seek him (vs 6), what chance do I have of gaining any reward, when some days I lose my cool over my cat throwing up a hairball down the back of our living-room chair? How will I withstand such intense testing and trials when piled-up laundry has been known to make me wither? What about when my best just doesn’t feel good enough? When prayers dribble from my lips during my personal devotional times?
I daresay, this kind of faulty mindset can make anyone’s diligence wane considerably, and head them into a tailspin of debilitating self-accusation. So, I determined to realign my understanding of these intimidating forefathers.
My first stop, Webster’s Dictionary. Webster's defines Diligence as ‘constant and persistent attention to one’s work . . . The words constant and persistent don’t particularly come across as blaze-of-glory type words. Neither do they spark a sudden desire in me to find some ferocious lion and render him toothless. Rather, they sound methodical and unwavering—a building up of line upon line, precept upon precept. They are plowing-type words, a daily seeking after God and building up of one’s faith rather than one continuous gush of zealous passion. In light of this helpful information, I felt the dead air stir around me. My faith sails began to re-inflate. I moved on to God’s Word.
No doubt, Noah received one fantastic ride of a lifetime as a reward for his faith. But hammering away at the ark day after day for one-hundred-and-twenty years took diligence, and lots of it. The jeering crowds, not to mention his hammer hitting the thumb and not the nail had to pound against his last nerve.
Didn’t ancient Abraham and Sarah—during their long twenty-five years of waiting for their promised child—experience days when the concept of childbirth seemed a bit on the ridiculous side? Days when a chuckle or two were their best response of faith? What about Gideon? How many times did the Lord need to remind the guy he was a mighty warrior? I’ve certainly had my share of, “Who me?” days. And Moses. Did he feel all that zealous while leading his disgruntled kinfolk through the wilderness for forty long years? Weren’t there times when, under his breath he mumbled, “If I hear one more complaint about the menu . . .!”.
These heroes of the faith were common folk like you and me. They experienced good and bad days. Yet, they continued on. They followed after the only One who gave meaning to their (at times) nonsensical journey. They clung to the only Rock in their wavering world. As a result of their diligence, God rewarded them with extraordinary results. He performed phenomenal acts.
So, in light of this, I will diligently continue on. With attitude. And you must as well. We will steadily press on, press in, and press forward with God. We will persist. Like the Energizer bunny, we will keep seeking God through every scenario of life—through every joyous occasion, heart break, mundane moment, every trial and tribulation. We will set our faces like flint to follow Him, whether we feel particularly passionate or not (Isaiah 50:7). We will stay constant and fight our individual good fights (because only the winners of a fight call it good). We will finish our set courses and keep our faith (2 Timothy 4:7). As a result, we will receive our reward and find at the end of this race, that we too are numbered among those who diligently sought Him.