The Cost of Giving Up

Giving up is easy. Just throw your hands up, walk away from what’s challenging you or frustrating you, and stop thinking about it. It doesn’t take effort or inner strength to give up. It just takes a choice.

I’ve been there before. Actually, I think I was there this morning. Faced with all this overwhelming stress, this crushing workload, and the exhausting struggle of planning for the future, I considered just walking away from all of it. I was ready this morning. Because what does giving up actually cost?

If I didn’t have to work so hard to make a living, maybe I could rest. If I didn’t have to take care of family members and friends so often, maybe I could actually take care of myself for a change. If I didn’t have to plan for the future outcome of two businesses, maybe I could make one of them work. Sounds to me like giving up would be a greater benefit to me than pressing onward has been.

But is that the truth?

The truth is no matter how little I work, I don’t rest. I don’t know how, and that’s a soul issue. The same is true in taking care of myself, and spending more time to myself won’t help my heart any. And maybe my focus is pulled in two directions with two businesses, but I’m not ultimately responsible for the success of either. And maybe it seems like giving up won’t cost me anything, but that’s an illusion. Because giving up on any of those fronts would cost me the blessings I haven’t received yet.

Work will be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7). That’s a promise God makes us. When we work for Him, He promises to reward us for what we’ve done. But the truth about rewards from God is that they don’t always follow the work immediately. Sometimes you have to wait for a while.

Think of it like a harvest. It’s wintertime now, and across Kansas all the wheat fields are dormant. They were all planted before the first freeze, and most fields are already sprouted. Some are green, although right now most are yellowish and brown because we’re having such a dry year. But the farmer who planted the field doesn’t know how the field is going to grow.

He planted the field before winter, and he’s trusting that the field will bring a great harvest in summer. But there’s six months between planting and harvesting.

The same is true with any great objective in our lives. First you plant the seed. Then, you wait for it to grow. Then, you keep waiting. Sometimes you have to tend it, water it, feed it. But mostly you have to leave it alone and just keep living your life. Eventually, the time will come when you can harvest, when the seed has grown into a strong, beautiful plant. But it never happens overnight.

Think about it.

When you try to get in shape, you have to exercise. You don’t develop strong muscles overnight. You have to keep at it. You have to keep walking, keep lifting weights, keep doing your best and working hard to be able to claim the benefits of exercise.

When you start a business, you can’t just let it sit. You have to work it. You have to build contacts, reach out to potential customers, create products, manage campaigns, and talk to people you don’t know. Your business won’t sell a million products overnight (unless you’re just super blessed … and if you are, can you give me a lesson?).

What would have happened if J.K. Rowling gave up after her tenth publisher’s rejection? What would have happened if Edison gave up on inventing the light bulb or if the Wright brothers decided that they should stick to making bicycles?

Giving up before they succeeded wouldn’t have cost them anything they currently had. It would have cost them what they were going to achieve. And it’s the same with the rest of us.

If you give up now, you’re forfeiting something great. No, you don’t have it now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never get it. You’ll get that reward when the time is right (Galatians 6:9) and not a moment sooner.

Here on Earth, we get focused on time. We live and die by the clock. But when we come face to face with God’s schedule, we need to readjust our perspective. Time has no meaning to Him. He made time. He is beyond time, and so He’s not subject to it. God sees time very differently than we do (2 Peter 3:8-9). And just because He isn’t running according to our watches, doesn’t mean He’s late.

God is always on time. We’re the ones with the watches that run too fast or too slow.

Think about your deadlines that way. So many times I feel the urge to give up because I’m not going to achieve something by the time I set. But who cares about the time I set? My timetable isn’t the one that matters. So how can I even consider giving up when I don’t even have access to the timetable God’s running on?

Yes, giving up is easy. But it costs more than we’ll ever know. So just hold on. I know it’s hard. I know it’s frustrating. I know it’s taking everything you have to just crawl out of bed in the morning. (I know because I’m there too.) But the reward is bigger and better than we can imagine.

Keep walking. Keep writing. Keep believing. Keep building. Keep moving forward. Keep on keeping on. Don’t give up. The ones who came before us endured more than we have, and they’ve received their rewards in full, just like God promised (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Who’s to say we won’t be next?

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If you want to see stars, get away from the distractions

stars-stargazing-shining-light-bright_1170x350

You can see the universe from the front yard of Safe Haven Farm. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not far from the truth. Out in the country, the Milky Way stretches out across the sky in all its hazy glory, and even the Pleiades is easy to spot.

I’ve always loved stars. Maybe it was the influence of Star Trek so early in my life, or maybe I’ve just always been a nerd, but I love studying the constellations and the names of stars and who discovered them. I love studying the planets and their moons. I’m so nerdy that I even follow NASA and read about new discoveries and the ongoing programs trying to get to Mars.

To me, stars represent entire worlds that I’ll never see, aspects of creation that are so much bigger than I am, reminding me that I’m just a tiny piece in the overall puzzle of God’s great masterpiece.

It makes me think about how Christ-followers are supposed to live. Not distant and mysterious–but like little pieces of God’s big plan, the evidence of a life beyond, proof that there’s something more amazing out there than what we have on our little old planet Earth.

In Paul’s amazing letter to the Church at Philippi, he talks about how Christ-followers can shine in a world covered in darkness. In Philippians 2:14-15, he writes, “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]There are just as many stars in the sky in the city as there are in the country. It’s just that in the city too many things get in the way.[/su_pullquote]

Isn’t it interesting that Christ-followers can lose their shine just like stars? And it’s not that they aren’t Christ-followers. It’s just that other things get in the way. We complain. We argue. We stumble and fall. And before you know it, any light we had is muddied, and we look exactly like the people around us.

Living out in a rural area, you cut out all the distractions that the noise of the city throws into the sky. The pollution and the big buildings and the trees and the bright lights all take away from the beauty of the heavens. It’s not that the stars aren’t there.

There are just as many stars in the sky in the city as there are in the country. It’s just that in the city too many things get in the way, and they block out the stars that can be seen with other things.

I want to shine for Jesus. I want to be a light in the dark that points people to Him, because He’s done amazing things in my life, and I didn’t do anything to deserve any of it.

Christ-followers aren’t called to complain or criticize or argue with each other. We’re called to points of light in a world of darkness, showing people that there’s more to life than this broken existence.

If you want to see the stars, you have to get away from the things that distract from them. If you want to make a difference for Jesus, you need to get away from the things that steal your light.

So don’t complain. Don’t argue. Hold on to your faith and your trust in God, and let the world see you do it. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to believe.

 

Is God worth my life?

I caught the tail end of a lifetime achievement award celebration for a popular comedian on television the other night. It was a fun show. Lots of laughing. Lots of very kind words said. There were a lot of good causes this comedian was known for–charitable foundations and good deeds and such.

This person had started young, pretty much dedicating his entire life to comedy. Sometimes people do that for their career. For some, it’s music. For others, it’s acting or speaking or competing. That’s the way it has to be if you want to excel at something, right? You dedicate your life to it.

But what is your life really worth? Is a career worth your life? Or a possession? Or even a feeling? Think about that. Don’t be flippant about it. What is your life worth? There’s never been another you. There never will be. You were created unique with your own thoughts, your own perspective, your own will. You are irreplaceable.

So can you really justify giving your one and only life away for a career that will only use you up and toss you away when you can’t do it anymore? Can you really see yourself sacrificing your years of life just for a possession that someone could take away from you?

What does it mean to be worthy? The dictionary definition identifies it as someone or something that has sufficient merit, value, or character. If a cause or idea is worthy, that means it’s worth whatever struggle you must endure to achieve it.

Most people see people or causes as worth living and dying for, and in many instances people and causes are indeed worthy of sacrifice.

But let’s face it. Even if you sacrifice everything you have for someone you love, they’ll still let you down. No, loving and investing others isn’t about what you can get out of it, but what is the point of dedicating your life to someone who ultimately can’t help you? Because at the end of your life, they can’t save you. And you can’t save them. Maybe you can live for that other person, but in the end, you’re both only human.

The same is true of noble causes. Yes, we should work to help the poor. Yes, we should invest in charities that help others. And, sure, maybe dedicating your life to a cause will result in great benefits to other people around the world. But is a cause worth your one-and-only-life if the only difference you can make lasts your own lifetime?

Is anything worth your life?

835971_83229648Today’s verses are Revelation 5:9-13.

And they sang a new song with these words:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and break its seals and open it.
For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
And you have caused them to become
a Kingdom of priests for our God.
And they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—
to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing.”

And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

There’s only one Person who is worth your life, and that’s Jesus. And that’s because He’s worth so much more than all of our lives put together.

You can give your whole life to Christ, and He’ll never let you down. You can dedicate your whole life to Jesus, and He’ll never steer you wrong. He’ll always be there for you, He’ll always guide you, and He’ll always provide for you.

Then, through His power, you can invest in other people without fear, because you’re dedicated to Him. Through His power, you can handle that impossible job. Through His power, you can life a successful life. But none of that is possible–not truly–without His power.

Are you afraid to dedicate your life to God? Are you afraid to turn over control of your life to Jesus (you don’t have control anyway, by the way)? It’s scary, letting go, and overwhelming because our culture tells us that we have to be the masters of our own fate.

But one thing you can know for sure is that God is good. The Bible shows us over and over again that God is truly, honestly, really good–He’s the only one who actually is. And if you can’t trust your life to someone who is truly, honestly, really good, who can you trust it to?

Dedicating your life to God doesn’t mean you won’t have trouble. But, hey, you’re going to have trouble in your life whether you dedicate yourself to God or not. Isn’t it better to be on His side?

I don’t know a lot about investments, but it seems to me that if you want to make a wise choice, you need to invest in something worth more than you pay for it. You should invest in something–or Someone–who can not only help you achieve your dreams but also save you in the process.