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The Price of Perseverance

What my son taught me about staying the course.

Today marks the end of a season … Pop Warner football season that is. It's almost midnight, and upstairs my jet-lagged husband and son just collapsed into bed after a cross-country flight back from Florida where my 12-year-old son Chance's team competed in the national Pop Warner Super Bowl (they won their first round game, but lost the championship). The whole town has celebrated the team's amazing season, but what brings tears to my eyes as I make my way to bed is the quiet victory I've witnessed in my son over the past few months.

Last summer, as football season approached, no amount of persuasion toward a less intense sport could prevent Chance from playing out his passion on the football field. Once he signed up, we were committed to helping him see the season through.

At first, Chance was determined to stay with the team. Despite suffering frequent migraines since he was 3, Chance endured the sweltering August heat and struggled to keep up with a group of kids who were bigger and more experienced at the game. But after week two, Chance's excitement began to waver. I was in Texas visiting my sister when I received the call from home.

"Mom, I'm at home. Dad went to practice to tell coach I'm quitting. I'm just not learning the plays like I should. It's so hard."

Every muscle in my body instinctively poised to hug this child of mine so many hundreds of miles away. Even though I had been hesitant to let him play, I knew his heart was on the field and that he would regret giving up. I said, "Son, your dad and I love you, whatever you decide. You need to ask yourself how you will feel about this decision mid-season when you're hearing your friends talk about Saturday's game. You need to pray about it and listen to what God is saying to you." I added, "Honey, this is bigger than whether you play football or not. This isn't just a lesson about football … it's a lesson about life."

I hung up and said a prayer for Chance. Ten minutes later the phone rang again.

"Mom, I'm not quitting. Dad's picking me up to take me to practice."

Three months later the undefeated Titans played in the regional championship, their chance to make the trip to Florida. The season had been tough for Chance—his size meant he had to work extra hard to prove himself. But over and over, I saw God give him the persistence to carry on. When the final second ticked to a Titan victory, I raced to find Chance. I recalled the obstacles my son had overcome to make it to this place … the guts required to gain the glory.

And so tonight, I find myself thinking about all the times I have faced life's difficulties and thrown up my hands in defeat. I look back on times when I allowed myself to be diverted from a worthwhile goal by discouraging circumstances. But watching Chance push himself through an often-trying experience, I was reminded that God works even—and sometimes especially—in the difficult circumstances. God forges character from the heat of hardship. I could see a change in my son, a new confidence in his ability to survive a challenge. The process of perseverance had refined something in him that might have lay dormant if he'd decided to quit the team when it became difficult.

In kingdom life, the journey and the destination are integrally linked. God himself begins a good work in us and continues that work as long as we live in human skin.

Lisa Johnson is a writer, speaker, and recording artist from Southern California. Learn more about her at www.candykissesmuddyhugs.com.

Elisa Morgan is president of mops International. Call (800) 929-1287 or go to www.mops.org for information about a mops group in your area.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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