Endure to the End. Does that sound familiar to you? How many times have you hear this, or a similar, statement? Did you roll your eyes or take it to heart the last time you heard it? What makes the difference in our perception of this process of “enduring”? Part of it, I think, is trying to define both terms- first what does enduring mean and second when is the end?
Enduring carries the following synonyms among many others: bear, tolerate, suffer, undergo, last, continue, go on and carry on. I think all too often we become focused on the bear, tolerate, and suffer definitions of endure and forget that there are just as many less stressful definitions as well. Basically, endure represents a process— any process. It’s a road that can or must be followed to its completion. Though it can, that completion doesn’t always mean the end of your life. It can be season and task specific.
Have you ever walked through a labyrinth? It can be a course of confusing twists and turns, sometimes they’re filled with fun and excitement. Other times the confining spaces and insecurity of not knowing where to turn or what might be around the next corner can make the maze very disconcerting. There are a few tricks to finding your way out, but any way it goes once the first step is taken into the maze, the options for how to finish are pretty limited. You must finish and get out, one way or another.
Sometimes we can find clues or hints, or even leave them for ourselves as we make our way through. Other times we have to admit defeat and wait for rescue or instructions from outside of the maze. Sometimes we have to put our hand to the wall and follow it the whole way through. If we were to remove that hand we run the risk of becoming disoriented and losing our way once again.
What if we feel truly lost in the labyrinth of life? This is another part of endure. What course did we start out on? Can we honestly say we are still on that course, whether the path seems to twist unreasonably before us? Are we still aware of the presence of the Holy Ghost walking beside us? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are not lost. You’re just not sure if you can reach your destination. You do not need to change course, you only need to rest and renew your faith and dedication to the task set before you. If the answer to these questions is no, then you need to stop, figure out where you lost your way and get help. Put your hand to the wall of the gospel and don’t let anything distract you until your path becomes clear again.
Consider our example of Jesus Christ. Multiple times during His ministry He expressed how important it was to Him to follow the course His Father had set for Him. He was on earth to do the Father’s will. His course was far from easy, in fact it was harder than any challenge anyone else would ever face. At times it scared even Him. In the garden of Gethsemane, under the strain of all our sins and the knowledge of what was to come, Christ did plead with His Father, “Is there another way? Do I really have to drink from this cup?” ultimately, knowing the answer was no Jesus expressed His desire to follow the course and see it through. Then, when He had finally accomplished everything that needed to be done, then He could say, “It is finished” and leave this world behind.
Remember during that time in the garden Christ learned to understand and take from us all of the pain and burden of our choices and our course. He wants us to succeed, no matter how bitter the cup may seem that is placed before us. He will not leave us alone. Small or great the best way we can know when our path is finished, when we’ve walked it as far as we needed to go and reached an end, is to hear those same words from Christ again. “It is finished.”
I do not know where the following quotes came from. I just jotted them down in a notebook at various points in time, but they hold true for enduring to the end.
Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Beginners are many, but enders are few,
Honor, power, place, and praise
Will always come to the one who stays.
Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it too;
For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
Will come life’s victories after awhile.
When you come to the end of everything you know… and the next step is into the darkness of the great unknown… you must believe one of two things either you will step out onto firm ground or you will be taught to fly.
Every once in a while when I pull these quotes out, I’m reminded that there really is a way through the maze of life.
I will find my way.
I can endure.
And finally, somewhere along the way, around some corner, there will be pleasant surprises to keep me going.
The disciple walks the path Christ places before him with the words of Paul in mind.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7