Perseverance In Faith

by Aaron Bradford

I work in the construction industry and for the last five years or more, my title has been “Preconstruction Services Manager.” When I tell anyone outside of this niche industry my title, I typically get a blank “what the heck does that mean?” stare. My wife, Kristen, tells people she thinks I’m a professional interviewer, and it does often feel like I spend the majority of my time anticipating, preparing for, or presenting for an upcoming work endeavor. I won’t bore you with the details of the job description of a Preconstruction Services Manager actually entails, but I will tell you the most rewarding and energizing part of my work is connecting with people in a meaningful way. This is highlighted by the opportunity I am given to help teach and facilitate a week-long training a few times throughout the year to new employees at my company.

The curriculum and week-long training is intended to help employees connect with the company culture, learn some tools to assist in their leadership of the company and their families, and to get to know themselves a little bit more through the use of a few different character profiles. By design, the program encourages self-reflection and focus, to think about how each member might apply the learning. Each time, there are a few participants who really seem to have an “aha” moment when they realize how they are uniquely wired, and then look forward to implementing something in their personal and/or work life.

I too, even after assisting with the teaching and hearing the same curriculum for years, find a sense of clarity and renewed belief in what the I am teaching, and I look forward to applying that information to my work. And yet, what I find during the program’s regularly scheduled follow ups, many past participants seem to report implementing the things they learned as “not so good” or “it’s been much harder than I thought.”

As I gear up for another session later this spring and think about this reality, I am constantly reminded that despite our best wishes and intents, it is so difficult to make changes in our personal habits, thought patterns and beliefs, too.  

I can read a book, hear a podcast, or be stirred during a Sunday morning message, convinced that God is wisely and directly speaking truth into a life circumstance I’m going through, but yet a few days later, I find myself hardly able to remember the subject matter that moved me just three days prior.

Sometimes I relate to John Nash, the main character in the 2001 biographical drama "A Beautiful Mind."  The movie is set in the 1940’s, where the main character John Nash arrives at Princeton University. As a co-recipient of a scholarship for mathematics, Nash is under extreme pressure to publish his own original idea and eventually develops a new groundbreaking economic concept. On the strength of this concept and a published article, Nash is offered an appointment at MIT, and a few years later, is summoned to the Pentagon to crack encrypted telecommunication that has national security implications. Throughout the movie, the viewer learns that despite his brilliance, the Nash character has paranoid schizophrenia and that many of the characters introduced throughout the movie existed only in his imagination.

Nash's wife, Alicia, through patient and courageous action, finally helps Nash accept his hallucinations. He returns to Princeton and over the next two decades, with the help of his wife and friends, Nash learns to ignore his hallucinations. The movie culminates in 1994, finding Nash winning the Nobel Award in Economics where he gives this speech.

I’m far from being a brilliant mathematician, and I’m the last person you want trying crack any kind of code (as I seem to hate Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and word searches), but I relate to Nash’s struggle with truth and reality. After being awakened to the truth of his schizophrenia, Nash continues to be confronted by his delusions. By simply ‘believing’ the truth of his condition, Nash couldn't make the hallucinations stop. It was only through the constant meditation of what he knew to be true and the persistence of others around him could Nash proceed with a healthy life.

Many times I find myself in a struggle to believe what I know to be true. I know I am an exceedingly blessed man (Ephesians 1:3) and yet I must constantly remind myself to choose gratefulness. I know through Christ I am fully loved & forgiven (Psalm 103:11-12), uniquely gifted (Ephesians 2:10), and created to show the world how deeply satisfying God is (I Corinthians 10:31) and yet I relentlessly battle resting in who God says I am. I know through a relationship with my creator, I have access to complete, unshakeable joy (John15:11) and hope of any inheritance in eternity (Ephesian 1:18), and yet I continually find myself derailed by the tyranny of life’s circumstances and storms of emotions.  

And just like those training participants I mentioned earlier, who can be stirred and compelled to change in the midst of support, but find it problematic to implement on their own, I need other Christian men, families, and mentors to remind me the truth of God’s Word. I need accountability to help cement my identity as a believer, challenge improper thoughts and actions, and teach me to apply the principle of grace to my own life.

Simply put, without the assistance of other believers in my life, the perseverance required in faith is nearly impossible.

I was explaining to a friend a few days ago my reluctance, after months of mulling it over, to go see a counselor. His response graciously reminded me how we were made to seek counsel from other believers and how it was an investment in my faith. And he’s right, this truth is littered over Scripture. Perhaps the verses that illustrate this most clearly to me, that Christian fellowship is a means of perseverance in faith, is Hebrews 3:12–14:

"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end."
As we all have bouts of doubt and inner turmoil, I find myself resolute in the conviction that the people of His church is the means by which God intends to complete the work of salvation. I desperately need other friends and believers to come along side my life and remind me of who God is and who I am. And through this process, I am assured that I, too, am called likewise to dynamically do the same for the people He has uniquely placed me in contact with.

Father, teach us to courageously seek and desire authentic relationships in our churches. Help awaken us your intended purpose of your church, to bring restoration through the truth of your Word. Embolden us to faithful action, and to compassionately walk with those you’ve positioned us in front of for the purpose of Gospel transformation.

Aaron Bradford and his wife, Kristen, have been married for 13 years and have 3 girls, Aubrey, Taylor and Livi.  They have been members at Crossings for 5 years. 

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