A Predicament of Persistence: When the Mountain Doesn’t Move (Part Two – Luke 18:1-6)

I have to make a deep, dark confession… and as a player of games that I am typically proud to discuss openly and often in just about ANY social scenario, this one brings only shame. Not because there is anything wrong with playing a Just Dance game… I mean for goodness sakes, this title has come out consistently each and every year for over a DECADE, so SOMEBODY is clearly buying and playing these games. No, the reason for my shame runs far deeper. I am a ONE-TIME player of Just Dance, once and only once. And it was for all of the wrong reasons… this, like most great stories of utter shame and amusement, is a story about a girl.

Best Just Dance 4 GIFs | Gfycat

I have always loved just about ANY rhythm based game, having tracked down everything from the Taiko Drum Master drums, to the DJ Hero turntables, to every element needed to play Rock Band and Guitar Hero. I owned high performance Dance Dance Revolution pads because violently stomping the ground as if the floor had suddenly filled with spiders was just about as close to quality dancing as this guy was going to get. I played and loved gamer-friendly rhythm titles like Amplitude and Frequency, but my actual, physical, real-life dance moves have never been my strong suit so when the dance game craze stretched from simply matching arrows on the floor to something that more closely approximated dance movements, I was OUT. Until destiny intervened, that is.

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If you have never played a “Just Dance” game, it is both incredibly simple in concept and challenging in execution… at least for those of us who lack the ability to make movements with our arms and feet in a manner that appears intentional. Points are awarded for mimicking the movements of the on screen dancer accurately and in time to the music. Shame is awarded to those of us who do such things with all of the grace and tender sensibilities of a moose in a china shop during mating season. I happen to be one of the lucky few that fall into the latter camp. But on THIS particular day, the stakes were too high to risk failure. Many moons ago, I was attending a celebration in which my skills as a gamer were being challenged by a fellow attendee. Their weapon of choice? You guessed it…. Just Dance. I had a week to prepare. And at this particular celebration a VERY important person would be in attendance… a young lady I had a MASSIVE crush on. The stakes could not be higher on a game that I could NOT be worse at.

Latest Just Dance 2018 Gameplay GIFs | Gfycat

To add even MORE pressure to the situation, I did not OWN a copy of Just Dance. With only a week to prepare and the knowledge that pretty much all of my friends as well as the potential future love of my life would be in attendance, I was in a pretty big predicament. I knew I wouldn’t simply be able to “fake it until I made it”, because I did not have any skills of my own to fall back on. The mountain between my limited capabilities and the “Promised Land” of defeating my challenger, proving my gaming skills on a grand stage, and sweeping the girl of my dreams off of her feet could not have loomed larger in the distance. Simply “winging it” was not an option. It was time to flip the script by doing the one thing that WAS at my disposal… dedicated persistence. And if you will give me a few more minutes, I will finish the story. But first, we must take a look at these mountains that are present and discover yet another reason why they don’t always move when we ask them to.

Last week we took a look at the importance of understanding which mountains are there for reasons beyond our comprehension… if you missed it that would be a great place to start:

Sometimes these mountains are STILL meant to move, but it is going to take more than just a quick prayer of hope to start shaking the ground. When Jesus told us about having faith like a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), one of the aspects of a seed is that it has a PROCESS of growth. One does not simply plant a mustard seed and then immediately start bottling up jars of mustard. It has to be planted, watered, and given time to mature. Does God answer prayer instantly? Of course He does… but as we will see in the parable from Jesus below, that is not always a guarantee.

Luke 18:1-6 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.  And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

That first phrase in these verses is the most critical one to absorb… Jesus is telling us this parable so we do not lose HEART when we pray. Let’s takes a deeper dive into the word He used here…the Greek word he used is enkakein“, which means to be negatively influenced with the outcome of experiencing inner weariness. Now THAT is something I can absolutely relate to, and I am sure you can as well. Have you ever prayed and felt more drained AFTER praying than you did before you started? This is that inner weariness that Christ is referring to. In every other instance of this Greek word being used in the Bible it is referring to a point of exhaustion and even fainting. And in this parable of the persistent widow, we receive the answer to this challenge of stubborn mountains that are MEANT to move, even if they just don’t seem to know that right now.

Free Bible pictures of the parable of the Persistent Widow who pestered a  judge for justice. (Luke 18:1-8): Slide 3 | Bible women, Parables, Luke 18 1

We never find out what this widow’s grievance is, but we DO know that her problem in and of itself did not gain her speedy justice. In her predicament she availed herself of the only person that could help her, but this judge simply would not pursue her case. She did not gain success in her trial through clearly outlining her compelling reasons for victory, listing her qualifications, dramatically throwing herself at the mercy of the judge, leveraging her personal network of connections, or anything else that would have typically been more than enough to resolve her problem. This problem… this mountain that was in her way… did not move until she demonstrated her PERSISTENCE to cry out and KEEP crying out until that giant rock started to roll.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

It would be nice if all of our prayers were answered as quickly and efficiently as Jesus withering the bush without figs (Mark 11:12-24), but that is not always the way prayer works. Heaven has many windows to pour out blessings on us (Malachi 3:10), but I don’t recall reading about any of them being a drive-thru window. It is through our patient, persistent, long-suffering prayers to the Lord that our faith is demonstrated… not just to the Lord, but to ourselves and those who are observing our walk of faith as well.

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Our prayers are not always answered in the time period we would prefer they are, and our mountains can persist in being obstacles longer than we think they should. But that does NOT mean they are not meant to move. Christ gave us this parable to ENCOURAGE us, not to prepare us for disappointment. Mountain moving is not always accomplished in a day, a week, a month, or even a YEAR. But if we are persistent and dedicated to our prayer and keep faith that the mountain WILL move, then we can rest assured that the Lord who put those mountains in their place will move them in His time.

Saturday of the Thirty-Second Week of the Year, November 17, 2018 -  Claretian Missionaries

So…. back to my Just Dance predicament. There was no magic solution to becoming good at a game I had never played, and didn’t even physically possess so I could get better at it. But I DID have access to YouTube, and I watched, studied, and through constant repetition memorized the gameplay of ONE song on the game. And when it came time to face the mountainous challenge of performing this song in front of not just the girl I had a crush on, but a room full of people, against a skilled and worthy adversary, my persistent discipline in painstakingly memorizing each and every movement of this song paid off. Not because of my skills, because I still had none. A rematch on a different song would have quickly demonstrated that. But my persistent devotion to this previously insurmountable task ended in a stunning and glorious victory… and while I can’t say it is the REASON that I got the girl of my dreams… I CAN say that she is my life-long partner in writing, recording, and sharing these weekly articles to this day. So I guess it didn’t hurt…

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What mountain are you wrestling with that threatens to wear you out, causing you to become faint of heart? While some of these mountains may be MORE than mere mountains (you will have to tune in next week for THAT one), as we can see in this parable there are some mountains that can only be moved through the faithful, continual persistence of our prayers. As we see in Hebrews 11:6, the Lord rewards those who DILIGENTLY seek Him. This is a perpetual, continual, intentional action. It is not a STAND of faith, but a WALK of faith that we are called to. There are no moving sidewalks here, and the most important prayers can often take the longest to be answered. The coming of the Messiah was first recorded in the book of Genesis, but Jesus did not take on flesh and blood until THOUSANDS of years later. Now it is unlikely you will have to wait that long for the mountain YOU are praying for to finally move, but the more critical the burden/mountain, the more persistence we will have to show to take hold of the throne and seek and answer to our prayers. Faint heart has never won fair lady, and it won’t get us those answers to prayer either. Stay strong, and remember that He ALWAYS hears our prayers… even if that mountain seems slow to move.

I didn’t need to memorize every song to win on Just Dance… just one. And if you commit to praying that ONE prayer… holding on to that ONE verse… standing on that ONE promise… and singing that ONE song, you will claim your victory, too. You only have to pray one day longer than your mountain was prepared to stay.

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