I read a short story about a man in the basement of a building over one-hundred stories high. He was standing in front of a bank of elevators. The lights on them were flashing as they charted the floors the elevators were traveling to. And though they made frequent stops on the ground floor above him, none of them made their way down to the basement (no matter how hard he pushed the button).
At first he was simply puzzled by this strange occurrence. Then the more he thought about it, he seemed to recall a story he had heard about someone being trapped in a basement for several days. He felt a sense of anxiety creeping over him. His face felt flushed and he began to perspire. He was on the verge of having a full blown panic attack when he heard a voice within clearly say above the swell of emotions three words: TAKE THE STAIRS!
How many times have people failed to change their situation in life because they were waiting for an elevator to take them where they wanted to go? The stairs were there the whole time but in their mind the elevator was going to take them rather than them providing their own transportation. After all, stairs are hard work. They’re not only boring and monotonous, but they are on an incline so that you are constantly working against gravity. The elevator will do all of that for you (if it shows up).
Thomas Edison, the man responsible for the light bulb, the phonograph, the movie camera and possessor of over 1,000 patents said, Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. He also stated, Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Clearly, Edison was not an elevator man.
In all of this, we’re talking about the quality of endurance—the ability to see something through to the end. It takes no character to cut and run when things get tough, but to persevere to the end requires a depth of commitment. Where do we acquire such endurance? Paul speaks to this in Romans 15:4 when he tells us that one of the places for learning about endurance is the Scripture. In particular, he has the Old Testament in mind when he speaks about the endurance taught in the Scriptures.
And indeed, the Old Testament is full of such stories. We’re barely into it when we hear about a man named Abraham who is promised innumerable descendants (Genesis 12:7). The only problem is that he is seventy-five years old and his wife is unable to have children. Nonetheless, he believed God and for the next couple of decades he lived like this was going to happen. Finally, when he was 100 years-old, he became the father of Isaac. He endured and God delivered.
That’s the same story we find a few chapters later when a teenager named Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Like Abraham, Joseph endured and 13 years later God delivered and he became second-in-command in Egypt. Then there was Israel’s endurance under Egyptian bondage until their deliverance by God, Moses’ time in the desert, the stories of Elijah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It’s little wonder the Hebrew writer devotes an entire chapter to stories like these (Hebrews 11).
These stories encourage us and give us hope (Romans 15:4). They remind us that blessings didn’t come to people who were sitting around waiting to be taken where they wanted to go—they came to active people who moved forward by faith and endurance in the God who delivers.
Life is calling—are you waiting or walking?