Living in Faith, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Acting with tenacity – thanks to Amelia Earhart

For the last several years, I’ve bought a daily tear-off calendar for my desk; one was Bible verses, one was great books to read, one was beautiful photos. This year’s is called “Seize the Day” and has inspirational quotes by people ranging from professional athletes to authors, historical figures to models, TV personalities to scientists.

Last weekend’s quote was from Amelia Earhart:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity.”

Do you find that to be true? I often do, especially when the decision is faith-based.

I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to be the person He wants me to be. I want to go where He wants me to go.

But sometimes I’m so intent on doing what God wants that I end up doing nothing – because I want to be extra, extra sure that whatever I do is what He wants. So I pray about it. And I have conversations with God about it. And I pray about it some more. And I ask Him to help me know which way He wants me to go.

And in the course of all of this, I often stay right where I am instead of taking even a small step in one direction or the other.

As if He can’t readjust my path to get me where He wants me to be if my first few steps are in the wrong direction (because He definitely can).

As if sometimes both options I’m considering might not both be acceptable to God and usable by Him (because they can be).

As if I’m not old enough to know that sometimes He might just want me to take a tiny step of faith before putting all the pieces in place for me (because He’s done it before).

Amelia Earhart quote about tenacity
Was Amelia Earhart thinking about faith when she said that? My guess is probably not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still apply it to our lives as Christians.

Deciding to follow Christ is a one-time action: once you profess your belief in Him as Savior and ask Him to come into your heart, it’s done forever. But we still have to decide day after day – sometimes minute to minute – to put our belief into practice.

Following Christ can be hard. Living as a Christian in today’s world can be hard. We need to be intentional about following Him because it’s not going to happen if we stop paying attention. And we need tenacity – persistence, determination, doggedness – to help us stay connected with God and focused on Him instead of everything that pops up on our path.

Tenacity helps us keep moving forward in the direction we believe God is calling us, even if it’s just one tiny step at a time. Because then one tiny step can become two tiny steps, and two can become three, until we find ourselves taking slightly bigger steps as our confidence in following God grows.

A few blog posts back I wrote about the focus words we received at church in January and that mine was “faithfulness.” I like “faithfulness” and believe it’s a great word for any of us to focus on. I definitely need to, especially during a year as crazy as this one.

But the more I think about “tenacity,” the more I like all the ways it can apply to my faith. My spiritual life could probably use some tenacity, some persistent holding onto God.

David wrote about this in Psalm 63:8. Many translations use variations of “my soul clings to you” or “I stay close to you.” But this is one time when I really like the King James translations:

  • My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me (NKJV)
  • My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. (KJV)

And then there’s the Contemporary Amplified version:

  • My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.

I like the verb picture of following close behind God. It shows that I’m not just holding on for the ride, I’m chasing after God. And I’m following hard, making it a priority and trying to stay right with Him instead of just wandering along at my own place, checking occasionally to see that He’s still in sight.

Intentional following. Dogged, persistent, determined following. Tenacious following. Because it’s worth the focus and the fight to stay right with Him, wherever He’s leading me to go.

That’s how I want to be. What about you?

Your turn: What keeps you holding on and following hard after God?