"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18: 1-8, NIV
I love to read biographies of great Christians. Their stories inspire me and help me apply the precepts of God's Word in the footsteps of forward moving life. Yet, when I look at someone like Elisabeth Elliot, Eric Liddell, or Bruce Olsen, it's easy to get intimidated. These are people who have great strength, wisdom, and fortitude. These individuals knew God had gifted them for the ministry he called them to, and those gifts led to great kingdom gains. Comparison is always a dead-end street, but this type is especially dangerous. This type causes me to wallow in my own inadequacy instead of answering God's calling.
The antidote to wallowing in inadequacy is to stop looking at others and start taking an inventory of the gifts God has given me and the ways He may use them for His glory. That is why the parable Jesus shares at the beginning of Luke 18 is my very favorite. In it, Jesus talks about my special gift. The persistent widow and I share this particular blessing--our special gift is nagging!
Jesus commends the persistent widow for her simple ability to persevere. She keeps coming to the judge, keeps asking the hard questions, keeps begging him for justice. She is a seasoned, accomplished nag. It might not be the prettiest spiritual gift ever given, but Jesus' teaching here is that it is a remarkably productive one.
Of course the members of my family, who have been asked to pick up their junk or put their dishes in the dishwasher for years, can attest to my giftedness in this area. So can many of my counselees, who I am sure wish I would just knock it off already. I visualize myself as some kind of terrier who grabs on to a blanket and just won't let go. In so many situations I kind of grit my teeth and keep on pulling.
I find it so beautiful that this gift of persistence is honored in this parable. Jesus instructs us to pray big prayers, and keep on praying them, locking into our Father's ability to answer them according to His purpose. Keep on asking, Jesus says. Keep on begging, keep on pleading, keep on bringing your heart's desires to me. Keep on nagging Crystal--it is your special gift.
Jesus reinforces the flip side of the gift of nagging at the end of the passage. Yes, it is important to keep on asking, but also important is the approach you take to waiting. Is your persistent nagging fueled by faith in God's ability to answer according to His loving will (even when His answer is not precisely what you asked for)? Or does the fear that you might not get just what want power your persistence? This side of my special nagging giftedness is definitely a work in process.