One of the great lessons I’ve learned from my husband, David Mains, is what it means to be diligent, constant, and persistent—in fact, David is the very picture of persistence.
It took me a while to appreciate this rare quality because my natural bent is to sprint; I go hard for two weeks, then collapse into retreat, silence, reading—anything that will help me restore. Then I sprint again. Being naturally solipsistic, I thought everyone should function the way I functioned and considered David’s “plodding” approach a little dull, frankly.
However, I began to understand that whereas David lacked a little in spontaneity (all those lists and schedules and calendars), he made up for it in constancy. During the broadcast years, as soon as one week of broadcasts was taped (and eventually two weeks of television shows at a time were taped), he would immediately duck his head and begin plotting the next regimen. I was often dragged from evening social affairs by the pre-event warning: “Remember, we have to leave early because I need to be in the recording studio by 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.”
Moving out of our offices and creating a basement workspace for our small employee team has reminded me that I (and the rest of the family) have come to admire this somewhat plodding quality of our husband /father. “Remember,” we say to one another, “David eats the elephant on the table one bite at a time.”
Indeed he does. While I’ve been recovering this year from some condition that fits the descriptions of hypothyroidism (my thyroid was removed due to cancer two years ago), he has persistently and consistently packed up books, moved them to storage, emptied small cabinets and file drawers and reminded us all that we needed to be out of the office by April 1, 2016.
After fifty years of marriage, I am comfortable with being the “spontaneous” one and with David being the orderly plotter and planner. Because I’ve been under the weather, he has risen each morning this spring before the sun is up to work for a couple hours each day clearing away the debris that occurs in a large garden that was neglected last summer, was not cleaned up last fall, and is showing itself worse for the neglect every time we look out the window. The only mornings he has missed are ones where the weather has been prohibitive.
Take the bricks that line the planting areas in the front gardens; they border the gravel driveway and need to be reset each year. Cars drive over them, snow plows dislodge them, frost heaves them. They are a headache to reset because small stones fall into the perpendicular cavities that are left when the bricks are dislodged and cause an uneven base when my husband eases the bricks back into the ground. So David does five bricks a day and appreciates it when I take time to ooh and aah over his arduous progress. This is what I mean by eating the elephant on the table one bite at a time. David is a master at it, whether he likes the taste of the elephant meat or not.
I also understand that God appreciates persistence as well. In fact, it seems to be one of the qualities He highly admires. In the Scriptures, the word used for this is “perseverance.” Romans 5:3 says, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope…”
There are a multitude of Scriptures that talk about this; let me just quote James 1:12—“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
I think I’ll make a further study of this word; it is a quality I need to examine myself for and ask whether I am developing the quality of being able to eat the elephant on the table one bite at a time. Meanwhile, if I need to see a living picture of persistence, I’ll just watch my husband. I’ll live and learn.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. In writing content for this blog, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.