“Because you kept My Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test. I’m on my way; I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.” 
~ Revelation 3:10,11, The Message

I want you to imagine something with me.  Let’s pretend that you and I have become as a little child. We are wandering along a mountain trail. The birds are singing. Butterflies dance in the sunshine. Trees sway to the rhythm of the wind and drink from the stream that ribbons its way through this natural paradise. All along the creek bank wildflowers grow – daisies, blue chicory, larkspur. You’ve been looking all day for the perfect gift to bring your Father. He loves the beauty of creation, the splendor of nature. These flowers are the perfect gift.

Tiny hands gather a delicate bouquet. Excitement grows in your little heart because you love to bring special gifts to your Father. But as you start to make your way home, your path grows steep. There are stones in the way. Tree roots criss-cross the trail and thorny briars creep in on both sides. This perfect path has become difficult, wrought with danger and full of obstacles. It’s hard to hang on to the special gift you are bringing your Father. Very difficult. But you are determined to make it to the top of the mountain where he lives. 

So you press on.

Finally you reach a clearing and you can see the path clearly again, but the beauty of your gift is now spoiled. Some of the flower stems have broken. Daisy petals scatter with the wind. You think the gift for your Father is ruined. You feel so disheartened you don’t think you can go on.
Father sees you climbing up the steep mountain trail. He sees your frustration, your tears. He knows your heart and so he runs to you.
“Child, why are you so distraught?” the kind Father says.
“I brought you a special gift to show you how much I love you and now it’s ruined,” you answer.

“No, no,” said the Father. “It’s not ruined. Your tears have caused it to glisten in the sunshine. The broken stems and blossoms show your effort to please me. I see your determination to persevere regardless of the obstacles you encounter. You may think your gift is tarnished, but I see it as a love offering – an expression of your heart – regardless of how hard your journey has become. Thank you for your gift. Thank you for your love and your desire to please me. The road has been long and steep, but look around you. Look how far you have come. Please don’t look at the broken bouquet. Look at the view. See what I see. See how far you’ve climbed.”

Sweet friend, sometimes the road becomes almost unbearable. We see only our skinned knees and broken stems, but the Father looks on the heart. He is honored by our perseverance. He cheers us on as we get up, dust ourselves off and continue on our journey. And He delights in our gifts. Though tattered and torn, He sees the heart that is fixed on Him and He responds.

Persevere, dear ones. Persevere. Love, laugh and rejoice in the Lord your God. 

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