Being tough and stubborn only wears you out

I’m pretty tough. And I’m really stubborn. A friend once told me he could outlast me in stubbornness because he was Irish. I had to inform him that I was Irish and Scottish, so he was doomed. And I have had many friends tell me they wished they could be tough, but let me tell you, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. And when you throw stubbornness and pride into the mix too, it’s a recipe for disaster.
There isn’t much I can’t handle on my own. I don’t say it to be proud. It’s just the truth. But that means I grow accustomed to walking in my own strength and relying on my ability to understand things. So when the days come (and they have come) that I can’t handle something, I falter.
Q'eqchi School on the hill

Q'eqchi School on the hill - Esfuerzo II, Peten, Guatemala

 The most difficult physical circumstance I’ve ever experienced was my trip to Guatemala in 2011. I have posted my journal about the trip, and the two others I’ve taken, here on this blog. Please understand I’ve been on a lot of rough trips, and I wasn’t worried or scared. But I was acclimated to an office job.

Our goal was a little Q’eqchi village deep in wilderness area, called Esfuerzo II. We had to ride a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get to the beginning of the path, and then the only way there was hiking or on horseback.

So when we hit the road and started hiking (because I refused to ride a horse), I didn’t anticipate how quickly I would dehydrate. I’d drank all my water and still couldn’t start sweating again, and we were only halfway there. I knew I was in trouble, but I thought I could keep going. Why? Because I’m tough. And I’m stubborn. And I should have stopped right then and asked for a horse. I thought about it. But I don’t like horses, and I don’t feel comfortable with them. And I figured I would cause more trouble if I tried riding one. So I pushed on and didn’t say anything.

Well, I didn’t push on long. I was so fried I could hardly walk, and I’m thankful I had someone on the trip with me who’s more stubborn than I am (yes, Colonel, I’m talking about you). I ended up on a horse for the rest of the way (I would never have made it otherwise), and then the village found some gringo-size horses for us to ride back. And they got the biggest kick of watching me trying to mount a horse on a plastic chair. Probably the best entertainment they’d had in months.

I remembered this story when I read today’s verse, Philippians 4:13.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

It’s a common verse, one just about every Christian knows. But I think we know it so well that we think we don’t have to live it. Or it’s one of those verses that falls to the backs of our minds because we’ve heard it so many times.

What if we could really live like that? What if we could actually live every moment in Christ’s strength instead of our own? I know people who do, and I want to get there. Because living in my own strength, I’m limited. In my own strength, there are things I can’t accomplish, and I don’t to miss an opportunity to do something amazing for God just because I was too stubborn to accept His strength and tried to achieve it on my own.

I’m not saying that Christ is going to give people strength to climb on horses and ride around in the jungle with no water. I mean, He could if He wanted to. But generally, you have to work up the physical ability and the tolerances for things like that.

But what about loving people? What about being bold? What about having courage to do something no one expects from you? What about stepping outside the box? Shoot, what about burning the box? Most of those things are more frightening than dying of dehydration in a jungle, as far as I’m concerned.

If you’re living in Christ’s strength, nothing is impossible. There’s nothing He can’t do through you. You just have to let go. Being tough and stubborn about it, isn’t worth it.

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