Sitting on the dresser in my little boys' room is a jar with a dead caterpillar in it and a styrofoam cup with a dried out bean plant laying in the dirt. Both of these items were carefully set there with high hopes and anticipation of beans and butterflies by each child. However, Connor did not want me to plant his seed in my garden where it might stand a chance of growing, and Justin lost interest in the caterpillar after two days of not seeing it turn into a butterfly. Little kings of the short-attention span, they are. I'd like to pretend I have no idea where they get that from, but I see it in myself all the time.
I'll be praying for something, diligently, for like a few days, then get distracted by the next big item on the agenda. Or, I'll hear a great message at church, get all fired up about something, but forget exactly what it was that got me all fired up in the first place. I don't water and feed the seed that needs nurturing to actually germinate and show results in my life.
You may not know this or remember, but instead of choosing a New Year's Resolution, I chose a One Word Revolution. My word for the year is ENDURANCE. Staying the course. Playing until the buzzer. I have a habit of slowing to a walk once the finish line is in sight. Not that I give up exactly, I just decide that I have sort of succeeded so it is ok to slack off a little.
Maybe you do this, too. Get a little lax on the homework expectation for your kids or let the bedtime slide because school is almost done anyway. Or financially, it's almost pay day and there is still money left, so let's spend it. Here's my favorite though: I have already screwed up my (diet, studies, finances, plans...you fill in your own blank here), so I might as well give up.
Don't confuse ENDURANCE with perfection. It does not mean a job perfectly done without mistake or relapse. It just means that when you recognize the detour you're on, you don't use that as an excuse to change the course or expectation. You make the correction and get headed back in the right direction. So you missed a few days of working out, having quiet time with the Lord, laundry, whatever it is. You don't quit altogether. You make a plan to get back on track.
So, back to the dead beans and the dead caterpillar. Looks like that journey is pretty final. I don't see a resurrection of any sort headed our way there. But, we can use it as an example of what happens when we fail to nurture something. Things shrivel. They die. They do not produce the harvest of what we were hoping for. If we neglect God's Word, or quiet time, we cannot be surprised by a lack of result. If we do not nurture our relationships, we can't be disappointed when they don't flourish. If we don't water the plants or feed the pets, don't expect beans and butterflies.
James offers the best encouragement for enduring: "And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:4