Have you ever been in a rowboat? Once when I was on holiday, I tried to cross over to a small island in a rowboat. The further I went out into the lake the further the island seemed to be from me. I enjoyed using all my muscles to lunge the boat forward, but it took some serious effort to maintain my course through the choppy waves. Eventually I got to my destination, but in hindsight I think I could have made the trip in half the time and avoided all the zigzagging if I had kept my focus more on the island instead of on the waves, the difficulty, or even on my own rowing.
The Holman Bible Dictionary describes “steadfast” as a word meaning to endure patiently. A steadfast person is one who is reliable, faithful, and true to the end. A similar word that we may be more apt to use today is perseverance.
James 1:2-4 tells us how steadfastness is produced in us. “Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Steadfastness is a by–product, so to speak, of the testing of our faith. And steadfastness is vital to us as it carries us through our transforming walk with Christ to the end. We cannot become steadfast if we never have to endure anything, and if we never have to patiently persevere we do not gain steadfastness’ transforming work in us.
The prime example to look to in steadfastness of course is Christ Himself. “For the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”(Heb. 12:2b-3) Christ Himself endured all He suffered with patience, keeping the ultimate joy of the redemption of His beloved children, the will of the Father, always in front of Him. We are asked to do the very same.
When we are called to endure, we must resist the evil one, and “stand firm in our faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by our brotherhood throughout the world. And after we have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.” (1 Pet. 5:9-10)
As we hang on with the steadfastness of Christ, “we will no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph. 4:14). With steadfastness we will maintain our course despite the currents of deceit, the waves of human wisdom, and the winds bringing half-truths from the evil one.
Of course, we cannot develop steadfastness on our own, and we must be prepared. Ephesians tells us to dress appropriately for the battles that we will face. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication(6:10-18).
So today, let us bring our tendency to focus on the waves and our propensity toward fear and panic amidst the storms of life, to the throne of Christ, and ask Him to replace them with steadfastness. Let us ask Him to help us get dressed each day with the whole armor that He provides for us. And Let us praise Him for His own steadfastness which now gives us our hope of salvation!
Let us not be afraid of the wind and the waves, but when they come let us remain steadfast. Let us get in that rowboat and head for the island, not looking at the waves, the wind, or on our own ability to maneuver. Instead let us look to Jesus, and ask the Lord to build in us a steadfastness that will see us through to the end.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isa. 26:3)
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thess. 3:5)