Living on Borrowed Time!
But let patience have her perfect work….
— James 1:4
In the early days just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, our family settled in the nation of Latvia, where we first started our ministry in the former Soviet Union. At the time, the government of Latvia was especially fearful of spies and therefore paranoid about foreigners, so they did not like our being there. Because we had so much TV equipment, it was rumored that we were a CIA group sent to spy on the activities of the nation. Thus, we were very unwelcome by many influential people who occupied high positions of authority within the Latvian government. But we knew that this was the place where God had called us to start our work in the former USSR, and we were determined not to be moved by fear or to be bullied out of that nation.
As is often the case in a foreign country, living in Latvia required a visa. The man in charge of immigration at the time did not like us — so he would only issue us a visa that lasted one day, three days, five days, or maybe a week at a time! Then at the end of that very brief period, we had to start the entire visa process all over! It was like the devil was trying to wear us down and run us out of town. But we knew that we had been called to be there, and we would not give up.
Actually, there were several times when our visas expired, and we had to plead with officials to issue us another one. When they’d finally grant our request, the new visas would often be valid for a mere 24 hours! That meant we had only one legal day to “rest” and breathe a sigh of relief before we had to initiate the process all over again.
Denise and I still have our old passports from back in those days, and they are filled with pages and pages of Latvian visas. We had so many visas that we ran out of space in our passports several times, and the U.S. Embassy would sew in extra pages to make room for more visas!
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It was just like we were living on borrowed time. Every night when we went to bed, and every morning when we woke up, we were talking and praying about visas so we could stay where we knew God had called us. It was undoubtedly one of the biggest fights we had ever faced — and this fight continued unabated for several years! Space prevents me from articulating how much pressure it put on us. While we were producing TV programs, starting a new church in Riga, and answering mountains of pieces of mail from TV viewers, this visa problem was constantly in the background hassling us. It literally affected every area of our lives.
But after years of being hassled, vexed, and beleaguered, an abrupt change suddenly came! For some reason, which we never discovered, someone in the very top echelon of the government said, “Enough is enough that we have done to this family.” To our surprise, we were granted a three–month visa; then a six-month visa; then a one-year visa; and, finally, our entire family was granted permanent residency! The battle was over — and that meant we could fully focus on the task of taking trusted Bible teaching across the entire former USSR. By God’s grace and the virtue of patience, we had endured and outlasted the enemy’s onslaught.
Many believers in the early centuries had a favorite character trait, which they called the “queen of all virtues.” It was the Greek word hupomeno, and it appears throughout the New Testament. One example is in James 1:4, which says, “But let patience have her perfect work….” The word “patience” in Greek is hupomeno.
The word hupomeno is a compound of two words, hupo and meno. The word hupo means under or by, and the word meno means to stay or to abide. When compounded, they form the word hupomeno, one of the strongest words in the New Testament. It depicts a person who knows he is in the right place — hence, regardless of the pressure, assaults, or restraints that are forced upon him, he has decided that he will not bend, bow, or break under that pressure. He has simply decided that this is his spot, and nothing is going to move him from it. It is an unrelenting decision to hold fast to that spot and not be moved for any reason.
Whether we’re talking about me and my family and the situation we faced in Latvia or something you may be facing in your ministry, business, or education right now — it is a fact that there are forces at work to try to move us out of our places. The devil does not want us to realize our long-sought victories. That is why we must have hupomeno — staying power — that comes with a firm decision that we will hang in there and never surrender, succumb, or quit.
This word is such a vital part of my life and my thinking that I actually wear a baseball cap with the word hupomeno monogrammed across the front panel. It is found throughout the New Testament, and as we have seen, the early saints esteemed it as the queen of all virtues. This tells me that we still need to possess this lasting power today! That’s why I focus on it so much in my own life.
You see, when hupomeno is working in your life, it’s not a question of if you will win; it’s just a matter of time until you win! Eventually, the enemy himself gets tired and surrenders. And when he flees, everything you’ve believed to see will begin to come together. So I encourage you to hang in there and refuse to give up! Let hupomeno be a central feature of your life. Eventually the pressures will let up and subside — and when they do, your answer will come. In that day and hour, you’ll be so glad you stood your ground and didn’t surrender to the pressures that were trying to wear you down and push you out of position in your pursuit of God’s plan for your life!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, when You gave me the assignment I’m working on, You supplied everything that I would ever need to fulfill it! I thank You for sufficient grace, wisdom, ability, provision, help from others, and Your very own stick-to-it power! Father, I come before You now and ask You to fill me full and afresh with Your Holy Spirit. I ask You to anoint me with fresh oil and to strengthen me with a fresh touch of Your power so I can allow patience to have its perfect work in me. I am not willing to let go, loosen my grip, or grow slack. I know that I am in the right place at the right time, and I refuse to budge for any reason! Holy Spirit, I receive Your help. And by the power of God’s grace undergirding me, I will hold fast and see this assignment through to the end.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I boldly confess that staying power is at work in my life! It’s not a question of if I will win — it’s just a matter of time until I win! No matter how long I have to stand my ground, I will not give up and quit. I will not cringe in fear or bow out because of attempted bullying, intimidation, or harassment. The enemy is the one who will have to surrender in exhaustion. And when he flees, everything I have believed to see will come together before my eyes as everything that opposed and tried to withstand my efforts falls away before the invincible greatness of my God!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you ever felt as though pressures were trying to bully you into giving up on your dream or whatever God has told you to do? How did it affect you, and how did you respond?
- Have you ever been put in a position where you were hassled as you tried to do the will of God? Have the opposing opinions of family and friends ever threatened to pull you off course as you pressed forward to do what God called you to do? How did you handle it?
- Did a breakthrough eventually come for you? What caused the breakthrough, and how were things different on the other side?