Some people call me patient. Some have credited me with perseverance and even longsuffering. The truth may be, however, that I’m just too stubborn to know when to quit!
Whatever the correct viewpoint of that issue, I do think we could all use a little more tenacity. The attitude of “This is what we’re here for, and we will not quit.” I remember as a kid, whenever we signed up for something like a sport or ongoing activity… we were in it until ‘it’ was done. I loved playing football as a kid. I was little and quick and hard to tackle. So my freshman year, I went out for football. ‘Little and quick’ becomes ‘small and easy to throw around’ when you strap on a helmet and half your bodyweight in pads. As a wide reciever with a team that threw about 6 passes all year, I didn’t enjoy football. Not even a little. It wasn’t fun anymore, and it was a lot of work. But I signed on to play and quitting wasn’t an option, so I had to stick it out until the end of the season. I was rewarded with a grand total of 1 reception for about 45 yards (the only ball thrown to me all year – a 4 yard slant with about 40 yards of “run for your life” tacked on at the end).
Too many people have learned to quit when things get hard. If life is all about you being happy, and something is more work than it’s worth? Quit. Your relationship is a mess? Quit. Your boss is a jerk? Quit. School is too hard? Hey you’re old enough now, just quit. (You can go to work for someone else’s jerky boss, because they just quit, too and said boss has an opening!)
Even in the church, there can be the thinking that if something is too difficult, it must not be what God wants. Because, God always opens the door, ya know… or at least a window. He paves the way ahead of us to accomplish what we want, right? The truth is that sometimes, God closes the door, boards up the window, latches the deadbolt and says, “Come on in.” Jesus didn’t tell people it was going to be easy to follow him. He told them it was going to be hard. He told them they’d be hated. And he said, “Follow me”.
Have you ever noticed in Psalm 23 that as David is following God’s guidance on the “right paths/ paths of righteousness” he ends up walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” to a table that God had prepared for him right in the middle of those who would kill him? Following God isn’t safe. It isn’t easy. It demands that we don’t quit.
Two recent “little things” have been very encouraging to me in the last week in areas where I was pretty much ready to quit:
I haven’t done really well with this blog lately. I don’t feel the freedom to say what I really want to say, so I just haven’t said much of anything. I’d really like this blog to serve as a catalyst for conversation, but that hasn’t always seemed to happen. So, I’ve kind of just let the blog slide under the pile of ‘stuff to do’ lately, wondering if it’s worth the effort. An anonymous comment last week about a difference that something I’d written several months ago (thanks google) had made in someone’s life reminded me that sometimes you just don’t know what God’s going to do with your offering – you just need to give it.
Another ministry opportunity that had felt more draining than useful lately is the radio show that I do once a month – “The Cutting Edge”. The station (KCMI) desired to have a show on Saturday nights that would be an outreach to area teens – playing music that’s a little more ‘spicy’ than their general fare. Several area youth ministers come in with a few students and run the station for a few hours, rotating each week. With input from various sources, the station asked us (actually I think the only one they really had to tell was me) to tone down the tenor of the music (i.e. no more hardcore on “The Cutting Edge”). I don’t like hardcore, but I know a lot of the teens in the area that we’d like to reach do. This was/is frustrating to me, and coupled with a wonder about whether or not anyone was really listenning – I was ready to quit. But last Saturday night was one of the best nights for me at the show in the year and a half that we’ve done it. I spent a few hours hanging out in the studio with 3 great kids (even though they begged for a Veggie Tales song), played a lot of good music, and had a lot of callers.
I guess all of this is just to say “Don’t give up.” You can’t see the end yet, and if you quit, you’ll never know.