Lounging giant tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Some people juggle geese

Do you ever get so tired of running that you just want to give up? I do. I’ve heard it said that life is a race, like a marathon, and we’re running toward the finish. But I don’t think that’s accurate. I think life is a series of races. We’re not necessarily competing against others, though in some cases we are, but most of the time we’re just trying to reach the finish line. And when we finish one, we end up starting another. Or some of us are running multiple races at once.

Maybe a better example is a juggler. Everyone juggles. Some people juggle two balls. Some people juggle six. We juggle our career, our family, our hobbies, our dreams, our responsibilities, and our unpleasant tasks (According to Wash on Firefly, “Some people juggle geese.”), and the entire purpose in juggling is to be able to accomplish more at one time. Like running two races at the same time. If you can do more, you should. But the more you try to do, the more difficult it becomes. You have to run longer and harder; you have to have more balance or coordination.

And if that’s the path you chosen (or if that’s the path that’s chosen you), who says you can’t just stop? Why can’t you just quit juggling? Why can’t you just stop running? You can, can’t you?

Lounging giant tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Lounging giant tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Hebrews 10:36.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Why do we run a race in the first place? And this can be metaphorical, because I don’t run. I’m not built for it. Even in an emergency, the best I can muster is a brisk jog. But why do we set out to accomplish something great in any situation?

Well, I believe we want to challenge ourselves; we want to grow, build our skills, increase our experience. Or we want to help other people. Usually there’s a goal when you set out to run a race or when you decide to take on another item to juggle. Running the race of life itself or just juggling life itself (your own life; not someone else’s) is difficult enough.

But then you get married. Then you have kids. Then your parents need help. Then your friends need help. Then your job gets stressful. Then your dreams start requiring more of you than they did before if you ever want to see them become a reality. Then ministry gets tough. Just name a complication, and I guarantee you will face it at some point in your life. It will be another race you need to run. It will be another ball you need juggle. That’s just the way it is.

It’s never easy. And I’m not a “good enough” Christian to say that I’ve never wanted to stop. Sometimes there are so many things going in my life, sometimes I have so many balls in the air or so many races to keep track of that I don’t even remember why I’m doing it. And if you’re at that point, maybe it’s time to step back and reassess, because if you’ve forgotten your purpose, it’s a good chance you’ll say yes to anything. And we aren’t called to juggle ten balls for no reason.

But if you’ve got six balls (or waterfowl) and you know why you’re juggling and who you’re juggling for, is it okay to drop them? If you’ve got six races you’re running at the same time, is it okay to stop running? You know I’m speaking in metaphor here. If you have so many things going on in your life that you’re doing for God, is it okay to stop doing them?

Well, of course, it’s okay. God isn’t waiting around the corner with a sledgehammer eagerly anticipating the moment when you let down so He can smash you. That’s not the God I know.

It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to be exhausted. It’s okay to be worn out. But before you give up and walk away from all of it, take a moment to rest and remember why.

Why are doing the things you’re doing? Why are you juggling the responsibilities that are on your plate? Who gave them to you? Did you accept them out of guilt? Or did you genuinely feel God calling you to take them up in the first place? There’s a big difference there.

If you accepted something to juggle or a race to run because you felt guilty about not doing it, most likely, that was your own pride speaking. Because God doesn’t work through guilt. Yes, guilt is an important aspect of coming to know Christ. You have to recognize it and understand that you are guilty, but once you come to Christ and ask Him to cleanse you, you aren’t guilty anymore. And God isn’t going to use guilt to pressure you into something you’re not ready for.

Remember also that you won’t juggle forever. You won’t run forever. Races have an end. And, yes, there may be another race waiting as soon as you finish one, but if you’re at the end of a race, why stop just short of finishing? Finish strong. It’s difficult, but it’s worth it.

What the writer of Hebrews is saying here is that God can be trusted to keep His promises. And there are many promises God has made that we will experience just by believing in Him, but there are a lot of other promises out there–promises that require us to run our races the best we can and not give up.

If you’re tired today, that’s okay. Everybody gets tired, and it’s okay to take a rest. It’s good to re-examine your purpose. But whatever you do, don’t give up. God has great plans for you, and He’s made you awesome promises. And if you walk away from the finish line when it’s in sight, you might be forfeiting more than just the race.

Tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo

Who wants to speed through life anyway?

Why is it so easy to give up? I can’t really call my self a quitter in all honesty, but I can call myself a procrastinator about things that haven’t worked out the way I thought they should. If I have worked and tried really hard to accomplish a certain goal, and I hit a wall in the process, many times I’ll set that goal aside and work on something else. And while I could claim that I’m just taking a break (and that can be healthy), sometimes I wonder if it’s because a part of me has given up that I will ever succeed.
Giving up is easy. Maybe that’s part of the human condition. Maybe because our vision is limited we think when we arrive at an insurmountable task, it’s a sign that we have already lost the race and should just bow out gracefully. But from what I’ve witnessed, there are no odds that are truly insurmountable. I’ve seen people achieve things that would blow your mind. And those same people had every right to give up, but they didn’t.
Tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo
Tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Philippians 1:6.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

When God begins a process, He doesn’t stop until it’s finished. And that process will be complete when we leave earth and go to heaven, either by natural death or the Rapture. But until that day, God is working on us. Teaching us. Chastising us. Walking beside us and living live with us.

But some of us are harder to teach than others. I don’t know about you, but I’m the most stubborn person in the world. And I have lost track of how many times God has had to teach me the same lesson over and over again until I finally get the point.

But the issue here is that God never gives up on us.

It doesn’t matter who we are or where we came from or what our preferences are. It doesn’t matter if we like hard rock music or classical. It doesn’t matter if we don’t eat meat or if we prefer to eat our meat with a side of meat. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, God begins a process in our lives to help us become more like Him. And that doesn’t happen over night. It’s a long, slow journey.

And sometimes it feels like you’re not making any progress. Sometimes it feels like God is asking more of you than you can give. Well–yes, He is. Living the kind of life that Christ lived is impossible in our own strength. So if you try to live like Christ did without asking God for help, you’ll fail. But nothing is impossible for God. And no goal is insurmountable with Him on your side.

There will be days when you have obstacles in your path. And some days those obstacles will seem to be definitive. But on those days remember that you have a choice. You can choose to give up; that’s up to you. But if you persevere, it will be worth it. Because you’ll not only succeed, God will be able to show His strength to you and you’ll think twice before you doubt Him again.

The journey may be long and slow, but you’ll get there. And at the end of your journey, you will have learned so much and seen even more. The old fable about the tortoise and the hare isn’t always true. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race because sometimes fast is just fast. But I can guarantee that even if the hare had reached the finish line first in that old story, the tortoise still would have enjoyed the race more.