Twined within our perseverance is the expectation of things better—even glorious—that makes our waiting purposeful.
She plants the merest wisp of a vine beside the fencepost in her yard, her mind alight with glorious, magenta-colored flowers she has admired in the seed catalog.
She weeds the broken ground by hand, carefully removing stones, and culling cutworms who might obliterate her faith in blossoms she cannot forget. Each morning, just past 8:00, she fills her small green watering jug and carefully pours a half liter of water on the wispy vine that shows no promise. In odd moments she returns to the well-read catalog to reassure herself of what it says: Guaranteed to Grow.
Too late for blooming in this year, her plant will yield only leaves this summer, each of which she guards as though the destiny of the world rides on it. Rabbits will not snatch away her prize. No moles or voles will chew the roots in search of winter fuel. A shield of plastic covering protects it from the snow.
It’s the second springtime she is waiting for, and with each bud her hopes rise ever higher. One flower is in the making, with promises of more. She watches each with all the love she might endow a grandchild, if she had one. And on some warm spring morning when she barely slept the night, the first of those magenta blossoms shows—more beautiful to her than all her neighbor’s roses or a field of lavender.
She has seen the travail of her soul, and she is satisfied.
Our special focus in this month’s issue of Adventist World celebrates a quality deeply central to our Adventist and Christian faith—perseverance. We wait for glorious, magenta-hued realities—the royal garments of our coming Lord, the sunrise of eternal morning. Twined within our perseverance is the expectation of things better—even glorious—that makes our waiting purposeful.
Tenacity alone is not the quality we want, for then all parasites and mosses might be virtuous. It is the hopeful, prayerful anticipation of realities far greater than we have yet experienced that makes our perseverance morally compelling. We wait with purpose; wait on purpose. We dedicate our waiting to a beauty yet to come.
Scripture describes the perseverance possible of us by citing our amazing forerunner—“Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). It was not, and it is not, the painful endurance of hard things alone that yields in beauty for the kingdom, but the purposeful overcoming of hard things to satisfy a joy that sometimes only faith can see. Of Jesus, Isaiah wrote 700 years before: “And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied” (Isa. 53:10, 11).
The vine will grow: the blossoms will yet show. God’s kingdom, now sometimes seeming vulnerable and fragile, will yet become “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).
Wait with purpose. Beauty will follow.