Perseverance. Stick-to-it-ness. Tenacity. It's very similar to longsuffering, or patience in affliction. Both communicate a determination to not give up, to not lose heart, to stay the course despite difficulties. I once heard someone define perseverance as a long faithfulness in the same direction. Which is very helpful. The language sounds very much like one is on a journey (which we are). The Bible likens our days in this life to a sojourn, a passing through, a pilgrimage to that city whose builder and maker is God.
It reminds my of that proverb – a thousand mile journey begins with just one step. It's funny how the first step is often the hardest. Whether cleaning the house, or exercising, or reading a book or doing just about anything else that may seem dull, unpleasant or difficult, the main thing is to begin.
Journeys can be to good places or not-so-good places, but they all begin with a first step. It could be a step toward (or back into) addiction or a step toward recovery; a step toward self-control, or a step toward abuse and violence; a step toward forgiveness, or a step into bitterness; a step toward God, or a step away from Him. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree, they had plenty of opportunity to step away. They were tempted sorely, but it seems the sin was in the eating. A first bite, like a first step. It wasn't listening to the serpent (although that moved them closer to sin), it wasn't considering the tree's fruit or even plucking one of the fruit (although they were closer to devastation still). It was the actual eating.
So today we are all in various places and all confronted with various temptations. You may have angrily typed out a vindictive email but not yet hit the send button. You may have sat down in front of the TV or internet to look at something you shouldn't, but haven't yet started. You may have gone to the liquor store and brought a bottle home even though you know the first sip will lead to many more. But you haven't opened the bottle. You are still in the grip of temptation, and you can still turn away. Ask God for help. Ask a brother or sister to help you resist.
It is a journey though, and we all fall down along the way. The trick is to get back up again. The biblical concept of repentance is that of turning around. We've gone off course in our journey and will not get to where we hope to go unless we adjust course. On journeys we bog down and get stuck in a particular place for far too long sometimes. The trick is to get going again. When we realize we are heading in the wrong direction, the trick is to change course. And oftentimes the journey is better fared when we don't travel alone.
We can't achieve perfection in this life. But, by God's grace, we can persevere – for He has made us more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord. Take another step toward God today. Then, keep putting one foot in front of the other.