“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,
you will receive what he has promised” Hebrews 10:36 (NIV)
I sometimes wonder if what I’m doing is making a difference. Working with people is different to working with paper, poultry or plumbing. When I file a document, it’s filed. When I pluck a chicken, it’s ready to be eaten. And when I replace a washer, the tap stops dripping. It’s not the same with people. I can say something and not know if anyone is listening. I can do something and not know if I’ve made a contribution. And I can give something and not know how it was received.
But even though we can’t measure the influence we’re having on others, we shouldn’t assume we’re not making an impact. Francois Mauriac, the 1952 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, said, “No friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.” That’s encouraging to know, isn’t it? Our love and friendship, if Mauriac is right, makes a difference in the lives of others.
Do you sometimes think that because you aren’t seeing a change in someone, that you’re not making an impact? I do. But it isn’t true. The cumulative effects of our love and friendship can be staggering. We may think our influence is small, but our persistence usually produces a positive outcome.
Recently, a scientist hung a one ton iron sphere from a girder. Alongside the iron sphere he hung a small cork sphere – the size of a golf ball. He then set up an electrical mechanism that kept the cork sphere swinging slowly. It repeatedly struck the iron sphere and amazingly, after several days of uninterrupted swinging, the iron sphere began to move, slowly at first, and then with gathering momentum . . .
In the parable of the persistent widow (cf. Luke 18:1-8) there’s an unjust judge who kept brushing off a widow who was seeking justice. He was a big deal – she was a no-body. But the widow didn’t give up. She persevered until he capitulated and gave her the justice she deserved. I like that. It helps me stay the course and reminds me of the importance of doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
Your small influence can yield big results. “By perseverance the snail reached the ark” (C. H. Spurgeon – 19th Century Baptist preacher). So keep on keeping on. Even though progress may be painfully slow, it’s still made step by step . . .