By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Recently, I went to get my annual eye checkup because I am tired of borrowing glasses of parishioners, and my arms cannot extend far enough to hold reading materials at a distance where I can see them. My wife insisted I use one of these modern clinics that are popping up in multiple locations rather than return to my ophthalmologist. Her reason was based upon her experiences with the modern technology used in these facilities. During my eye examination, I was amazed. The Doctor used this computerized equipment and was able to maneuver my vision test down to seeming the most minute level; a simple tweak moved me from blurred vision to full clarity.
Tweaking is about moving from blurred sight to clear vision. Tweaking is about bringing into focus that which may be blurry due to fear, pain or disappointments in life.
I can speak of my own experience of tweaking as I struggled with my cancer diagnosis moving through the stage of being on the other side of the patient bed. All the things with which I would pray and console others, became hollow as I stared into the abyss of uncertainty and fear. Then my friend Canon Lyons came and silently sat with Nats and me and walked with us as he tweaked my sight. Instead of looking inward, I was now looking upward. Tweaking allowed me to see further than the present, dark abyss. This changed caused me to see holding on and letting go differently. I stopped trying to manipulate my way through my cancer on my terms, and I began to develop into a flickering flame which God lights and sustains. The terms of hope, peace, forgiveness and love took on different shades as my sight was tweaked into visions of the daily joys in human relationships and the hope sustain faith.
Yet, it is important to share that the act of tweaking is sometimes so slight, we can often miss it until after the change is complete. Last week we visited friends in Florida, and the kids caught a lizard as part of some unknown science project. In looking at the lizard, I recalled my own boyhood and completing the same science project; only our lizards would sometimes ditch their tales in fear in order to escape my grasp. When struggling with my cancer, I felt I had to ditch a whole lot of stuff in order to escape my overwhelming fear. Ditching stuff is a habit I learned in childhood, and I felt I desperately needed this habit to survive the realities of my health crisis. My friends, there is no ditching or escaping cancer or the fear that grips you so painfully hard, you can’t move. I had to learn had to tweak my approach to my new reality. I had to let go of fear’s hand and reach out to God’s unchanging hand.
It is through this same adjustment, this tweaking, Jesus invited his disciples to perform as they struggled with the pending disaster breaking upon their community. All had seemed lost and overwhelming as Jesus prepared to meet his final demise. Fifty years later, the church, again, faced the onslaught of persecution and many were either dying or giving up their faith. The message therefore was one of endurance. If we tweak, we can endure. Endurance then for us as Christians is about turning pain into passion. It is about tweaking fear into faith. My friends in Christ, if we tweak and endure, our endurance becomes more than an act; it becomes an identity. It is the same as saying marriage is more than an act of endurance, but an identity. Parenting is more than an act of endurance, but an identity. We are what we believe is an old adage. Thus Christianity is both an act of endurance and an identity. All of this is driven by an overwhelming experience of love. God’s love for us and our love for each other.
Endurance is an act of faith that proves God holds us in His hands forever.
1 Cor. 13:8 Love endures forever. It is through and by endurance of our love that will save our souls.