I’m pounding these words out like I used to pound the keys of my piano as a girl when I needed to unbottle the frustration or anger welled up in me.
Because lately, I’m frustrated by one too many obstacles on a path that wasn’t even my idea. This is a path I started down because of God’s call.
Part of me wants to sit head down in the discouragement and let the tears of disappointment spill. But the rest of me? The rest feels like backing up for a running start and putting the full weight of my shoulder to those obstacles.
We need godly grit for God’s call.*
I can count the number of times in my life I’ve clearly sensed God’s unrelenting, spiritual nudge calling me to a certain path.
Each call required a giant leap of faith and I thought the hardest part was over when I gathered the courage to obey and get off go.
Because an object, once in motion, ought to stay in motion, right?
Well, yes. Except for the itty-bitty, big problem of friction. In the spiritual realm, friction comes as obstacles, whispered doubts and closed doors and it can stop us from following a call of God cold if we let it.
I’ve never doubted God’s initial clear call; but oh, have I doubted once I’m in motion walking it out.
Stepping out to follow God’s call is hard, but staying the course is harder still.
That’s where godly grit for God’s call comes in.
Godly Grit for God’s Call
The Bible is filled with gritty believers who followed a call of God. One of my favorites is Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was cupbearer to the Persian emperor. In a giant step of faith, Nehemiah asked permission from the king of the then largest world empire to leave his post, travel back to Israel and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
The king not only gave Nehemiah permission; he provided material from the king’s own forests and a royal guard to accompany him. With that kind of solid start you’d think finishing the task would be easy, right?
Except for that spiritual friction. It was constant for Nehemiah.
Nehemiah encountered obstacles after obstacle – naysayers who discouraged; enemies who mocked the project and conspired to attack the workers; economic trouble and hunger; physical weariness; and multiple outside attempts to distract, discredit and dishearten him.
How did Nehemiah persist? First, he knew because his call was from God, success was up to God. Second, he took every obstacle to God in prayer.
We have three choices when we encounter obstacles: sit down in the discouragement and quit; push against the obstacles with our own might; or take them to God in prayer.
Grit in our own strength is stubborn self-will.
Godly grit draws on God’s strength and trusts His will.
Some doors will never open through our stubborn self-will. Some relationships can never change through our stubborn self-will. And some results will never come about through our stubborn self-will.
I believe as Nehemiah gave each obstacle to God in prayer, God gave Nehemiah endurance to keep going.
In the end, godly grit brings glory to God for work only He can accomplish.
We see this in Nehemiah’s life. Despite every obstacle, Jerusalem’s wall was completed not in a year, or six months or even three months, but a record 52 days.
And Nehemiah never once took credit. “[T]his work was done by God,” he declared.
As we follow a call of God, we can stay the course with true godly grit that brings glory to God alone.
*In this context, I’m not referring to God’s initial call to salvation. The Bible makes clear salvation is by grace through faith – not grit. I’m referring to the calls of God that come later – call to pursue a certain work, walk a certain path, take a certain stand.