Written by Mike Verkaik/Elizabeth Bruxvoort
The word “grit” has been echoing in my mind for the past week. I thought of it watching Lizzy run her last leg of the 1600-meter relay with determination. It came to the forefront as I prayed over three young people after they shared their love for Jesus. Inside there was a deep longing for them to have courage, boldness and discipline to run the race well as they face their spiritual battles.
However, as much as I resonated with Lizzy’s wrestling thoughts on her relationship with Jesus, it was the conclusion of her paper that sent me away rejoicing. I was reminded again of the heart of the Father, and a prayer I learned while reading Climbing Prayer Mountain (Tim Spykstra), “Father, show me the love you have for your Son is the same love you have for me.”
May the following reflections of Lizzy’s on Frederick Buechner’s writings be a reminder of the Father’s love, which is kneaded through the process of sanctification.
A relationship with God was not intended to be simple, but satisfying. It’s a paradox. In part God requires nothing of us, as “God’s love’s all gift, for God has need of naught” (Buechner 48). Yet God also requires everything. He requires us to sacrifice every ounce of that nothing we have to offer, in order to be used for something. God continually asks us to offer up our trivial gifts to Him until we “can give to Jesus nothing that I have, for I have nothing left to give” (Buechner 110). Jesus didn’t need to make his mission simple to draw people to the call. Just being with Jesus was enough for countless believers to brave the high stake that Jesus laid out for sainthood. Jesus is still enough for followers like us today.
That day that I sat down in a puddle halfway through my 300’s and cried was the closest I’ve ever come to quitting track. Maybe I would have if my coach hadn’t tapped me on the shoulder, pulled me up out of my puddle, looked me right in the eyes, and said, “Lizzy, you can be done if you want, but your grit is what I love so much about you.”
I stared in disbelief at this comment because I felt the exact opposite of gritty in that moment, but that’s who he believed I was, and so when he looked at me crying in a puddle, grit is what he saw. So, on that thirty-five degree day with slapping sleet and pooling puddles, I marched to the starting line and did the rest of my 300’s. I didn’t hit a single split, but I finished. That’s the thing about grit, it’s not about the production, it’s about the process.
God is a lot like my coach. He looks at us in our puddle of sin, offers his hand, and says, “Saint.” When we feel as far from the way God sees us as possible, grace is the reminder of our identity.
Let us be a people who celebrates grace, but let us also be a people who lives with grit. May we rise above the mistaken belief that a life of faith will be easy and remember that the hope of salvation brings with it the hard work of sanctification.