The discipline to continue.
Challenging circumstances usually interrupt the routines of life. Suddenly our norms are shifted. Events, often beyond our control, disrupt our neatly devised schedules and plans. Covid-19 is one of them. In the blink of an eye we're isolated, quarantined, and bound. Up front it may be relief from grueling work assignments or repetitive life patterns. A quiet day at home with our loved-ones may be the prescription needed for manic lifestyles. Then again, that quiet day at home can become a new activity pattern. I mean, how many times can we watch repeats of Live PD, or wash our hands, or munch the snack food that is so delicious and handy? Yes, of course life goes on. But, not in our accustomed ways. Enduring sameness, perhaps boredom, the constancy of teaching and entertaining children, preparing meals, and all of the other household chores present us with new hurdles and obstacles. In the process we may discard some of the more significant life essentials. The discipline of continuing is another sure entry-way to to the hallways of endurance.
Most life-changing endeavors require continuation to be effective. The diet I observed last Tuesday, that one and only day, won't get it done if weight and better health is my eventual goal. Neither is the gym membership I used for an hour January 2. Certain life maintenance routines are continuous in nature, like taking a shower or bath, washing behind our ears, brushing our teeth, or clipping our nails. Even in exigent circumstances there are certain things that should be continued. Almost every Google site I visited about endurance mentioned the discipline to continue as a norm for keeping some meaning in long periods of unusual interruption or difficulty.
The discipline to continue is also an often repeated biblical thought. Throughout Scripture we are reminded of God's continued steadfast love and faithfulness. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul, writing to churches under severe Roman persecution, often instructed them to continue in their spiritual lives---
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now
reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless
and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and
steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been
proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Colossians 1: 21-23, ESV
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4: 2 , ESV
Paul was emphasizing his own personal approach to the difficulties of planting churches and serving them in the harsh, often cruel first century environment---
And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those
who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as
2 Corinthians 11: 12, ESV
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress
and joy in the faith.
Philippians 1: 25, ESV
To his younger colleague Timothy he wrote---
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing
from whom you learned it.
2 Timothy 3: 14, ESV
Paul was writing to encourage their endurance in hard times. He knew that the discipline to continue was a significant element in discovering that endurance.
We must not allow the uncertainties of this Covid-19 to interrupt our lives to the point that we lose the hope and encouragement that sustains us. So, continue in your Bible study and prayer, your dependence on God's guidance and leadership, and your connection to others, even if virtual, so that the discipline to continue will generate endurance for the days ahead.
There they are. The disciplines that help us endure---stay, wait, and continue. More tomorrow.