The Power of Persistence
You just got to love this widow. Maybe you know someone just like her. I hope so. She has a legal dispute, and she knows she's right, just waiting on the judge to rule in her favor. So she persists. She keeps showing up. She keeps knocking at the door until her knuckles are bleeding, pleading with the judge, "Vindicate me. Vindicate me. Vindicate me." The persistent widow. We don't even know her name. That's all we remember her for, persistence. And her persistence pays off. Eventually, the judge says, "She's going to wear me out with her continual coming and knocking and pleading and begging. All right, lady, you win." Jesus says, "How much more will God vindicate those of us who persistently cry to him day and night." Persist. Now, there's a word, "To continue firmly, especially in spite of opposition, to last, to endure tenaciously." Persist. That's how Moses lead those whining, grumbling Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, persistence. That's how Theodor Seuss Geisel, turned down by 43 publishers, got masterpieces like Green Eggs and Ham printed, persistence. If ever there were a word for saints, that's it: persistence.
When Spain began its occupation of Alta California, Junípero Serra joined the expedition's commander. On July 16th, 1769, he founded Mission San Diego, the first within the present state of California. He founded Carmel in 1770, then San Antonio, San Gabriel, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Clara, and San Buenaventura. All in all, 9 missions planted in 13 years. A little 5'2" guy. Junípero Serra suffered swelling and pain in his feet and his legs from mosquito bites that caused varicose ulcers. At times he couldn't even stand or walk. Then he began to suffer from asthma. By his death, the baptisms at those first 9 missions had reached the number 6,736. He died at the age of 70, and he's buried in the floor of the sanctuary of the church that he had built.
I'm talking about persistence. And that's exactly what I thought about when I came across Don Justo. You probably haven't even heard of him. He entered a Trappist monastery as a novice, but he had to leave the monastery when he contracted tuberculosis and his health deteriorated. As his health began to improve, he received a vision from God to build a church not far from Madrid, and he said, "I'm a laborer by destiny." So Don Justo initially just leveled the ground and he mapped out the groundworks on site, and in 1961 he laid the first stone in what would become an 86,000-square-foot shire in honor of Our Lady of the Pillar to whom he had prayed for healing when he had tuberculosis. Hammering, chiseling, paving, hoisting, cementing from dawn to dusk beginning at 6:00 in the morning on all days, except Sunday when he goes to Mass, about 10 hours a day, mostly by himself, mostly from materials and tools that are recycled. He doesn't use cranes, just uses everyday objects and materials donated by construction companies and a nearby brick factory. Columns molded with old oil drums. The locals call it the cathedral from junk. Don Justo took no sick days, no holidays, no insurance. 60 years, every day, six days a week, just doing what he believed God called him to do. 1,000 visitors a day stopping by to watch and to see this incredible 164-foot-long building with a cross over the dome soaring 121 feet modeled on St. Peter's Basilica. He says, "I haven't done anything incredible here. I've got some qualities God has given me, and they've solved everything. I'm only doing what I had to do." Justo Gallego worked mainly by himself for nearly 60 years, and he died on November 28th, 2021 at the age of 96. He died in the magnificent shrine that he hadn't quite finished yet, and he left that enormous building to a group called The Messengers of Peace who are committed to completing his life's work.
Persist. It's such a great word. It applies to nearly every area of your life. Even when you're discouraged, don't let discouragement possess you. Discouragement is a devil that needs to be driven from our lives with inspiration. Find inspiration. Drink from those waters each day: books, movies, music, quotes, friends, family, prayer, reflection, meditation. You'll get discouraged. Just don't stay discouraged. Rest if you need to. Take a break, by all means, but then press on. God has something in mind for your life, a reason he has made you so that you might do it. It may be small, it may be large, but it's yours. Don't leave your part undone. If you don't do your part, it goes undone. Persevere. Persist when people criticize you. Persist when your inner critic tries to make you feel like you're unworthy. You may be able to do very little. That's okay. Persist in doing the little thing you can do. There's great satisfaction in persistence. After doing something worthwhile for many years persisting at it no matter what, you experience a delightful pleasure. Nothing significant can be accomplished without it. Persistent. In other words, press on.