That’s been a recent “word of the month” in our local school district. It’s a good word–an important one. One dictionary definition is:
steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement
We’ve probably all heard the thought expressed in some way as we grew up. “Stick with it!” “You started it–you need to finish it.”
We experienced it if we started lessons of some type–and wanted to quit as soon as they started being difficult.
We’ve also heard it at church. I remember hearing my dad often quoting 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
But I must admit…I wonder sometimes why some of my friends have persevered in their faith in the context of faith traditions that have called them “abominations”…what have wished them gone. I deeply admire them; I’m not sure I could be that strong.
I can’t imagine living every day, wondering if I could get through it without being hurt–mentally, emotionally, or physically. I can’t imagine living without companionship…of having to hide a significant part of who I am. I can’t imagine not being able to put a picture of my family on my desk for fear of losing my job. I can’t imagine being told that just my existence is “an abomination”–even if I keep totally to myself and deny myself the opportunity of loving someone.
How dare we call any part of God’s creation “abominable”? How dare we deny anyone the opportunity of knowing God’s love? of being able to share in community fellowship? of being able to offer ministry?
There are faith traditions that have stepped up–sometimes after many years of discussion and uncertainy–and have said “We can no longer deny the presence of God’s spirit moving in the lives of members of any community” and who are welcoming all who wish to come, all who feel the call to ministry.
If–as in my own faith tradition–we believe that God calls, then who are we to deny?
I am thankful for those who have persevered through the years…who continue to persevere…