Persistence and Determination

Scripture can be found here...

The love of God. The love of God.


How many sermons have been titled “The love of God”? (I was sure I’d preached at least 20 by that name, but it turns out—none yet.)


The love of God.


Isn’t that why we’re here?


Because we’re convinced of it? Or we long for it? Or we fear we don’t have it? Or we’re not sure we deserve it?


Or, perhaps, because we have entered into that very human and terrifying project of parenting another generation, and, for them, we almost desperately want to wrap them in it, like the most beautiful, handcrafted crazy-quit: The love of God.

Or, perhaps, because we have reached a stage in life where we are confronted by our own physical limitations, our own mortality, and we are, almost instinctively, attuned to it: The Love of God.


The love of God.


Maybe it’s just me. Maybe more of us are motivated by:


The fear of God.


And I understand that. I had a children’s bible, complete with an early section that was added in by the Catholic editors about the war in heaven, and the fall of Lucifer and the other wicked angels.


That story kept me up nights. It didn’t feel much like it was about the love of God.


It was later, when I was around thirteen, that it occurred to me.


I’ve told you the story, but I’ll tell it again.


I sat cross-legged on the floor, on a Youth retreat.


Someone passed me a fresh loaf of bread, saying, “The body of Christ,” and it dawned on me:


The love of God.


I had it. It was already with me. I held it, in my hand, and I took it into my own body, a sign of that love.


God was absolutely determined to love me.


God is determined to love us. Absolutely determined.


Paul knows.


“Who or what will separate us from the love of God?” he asks in his letter to the Romans.


And he names realities, of this world and others.


He names hardship, and danger and violence.


Think of a young mother, along with her children, swept away in the floodwaters in Houston. Think of those left behind.


Who or what will separate us from the love of God?


Think of a child locked out of a carnival that all the other children can go to, because she has no money.


Who or what will separate us from the love of God?


Think of a father whose son was lost to a violent act on the streets of one of our cities. Think of a soldier returned home, the demons of violence and adrenaline careening around in his head.


Who or what will separate us from the love of God?


The answer is, no one, and nothing, because God is for us.


Paul says, God sent his only Son, which is another way of saying, God came to be among us in Jesus. God came, to be with us. And, while we’re at it, we might mention, Jesus, in turn, unleashed the Holy Spirit upon us, which means God’s presence is guaranteed. God is here.


The love of God. God is for us. God is with us.


God is determined. God is persistent.


When I was growing up, my mother taped a clipping to the wall, and eventually, framed it. It was about success.


“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”[i]


That last line has been burned into my heart, the clarion call of my parents and they way they moved through the world, certainly.


But it also perfectly describes the love of God.


God is persistent. God is determined. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.


No one, nothing will separate us from the love of our persistent, our determined Creator, Redeemed and Sustainer.


We may not notice, we may not feel it, we may not even, for a time, believe it, but that does not alter the reality.


I am convinced. Neither death, nor life, nor fallen angels, nor the demons in our heads, nor the unsettling present, nor the unknowable future, nor heartbreak, nor rejection, nor tragedy, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is persistent. God is determined. And so, it shall be.


Thanks be to God. Amen.


[i] Calvin Coolidge.