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?

Advertisements

God sees you when you’re struggling

I climbed a Scottish mountain yesterday. It was pretty exciting. Our little crew of international travelers walked up this really steep path to get to this ancient rock, which marked the place where the Clan MacLaren used to rally in older times.

It was a difficult climb. It was raining. And not just raining. Pelting. So loud and hard you can actually hear it on our videos that we’ve taken. A ridiculous amount of rain, especially for a bunch of Kansans.

The mud was thick and threatened to swallow us up. The rocks were few and far between, and the loam wasn’t very good at providing good places to grip.

But we made it to the top, and it was worth the trek. The view was beautiful, and we could say that we accomplished something incredible.

The muddy path to Creag an Tuirc, Balquhidder, Scotland

The muddy path to Creag an Tuirc, Balquhidder, Scotland

Today’s verses are Revelation 2:2-3.

I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

It’s easy to give up when times get tough. It’s easy to walk away from a challenge, especially when you don’t feel up for it or when you’ve convinced yourself you aren’t capable. And when you think God isn’t paying attention, it’s even easier to walk away from a time of struggle.

But here’s news for you, friends. God is watching. All the time.

He sees when you struggle. He sees when you falter. He sees when you need help, and He cares. He’s not ignoring you. He’s watching you every step of the way.

Maybe that doesn’t comfort you, but it comforts me that God cares enough to watch what I’m doing. And He cared enough to intervene when it gets to be too much for me, which is always.

What are you struggling through this morning? What impossible task are you facing? Don’t give up. It will get harder before it gets better, you can almost count on that, but just because the situation is tough right now doesn’t mean that God isn’t with you.

So hold on. Keep climbing. Because the view from the top is worth the trouble it took to get there.

Nobody needed that roof anyway

When was the last time you had faith that something would happen? It doesn’t have to be something miraculous. Maybe it’s something as simple as having faith that there would be a movie ticket left to buy when you went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron this past weekend (rockin’ awesome show, by the way). Or maybe it was faith that God would answer a prayer.

Everybody has faith in something. It’s an essential fact of life. But it’s been proven over and over again through history that only faith in Christ is truly life-changing. It’s easy to grasp the fact that faith changes you, but did you realize that your faith can change other people too?

hole-in-roof-2-big.jpgToday’s verses are Mark 2:2-5.

Soon the house where he [Jesus] was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

I hope to meet these four gentlemen someday. I’d love to talk to them, hear about this experience from their own perspective. I mean, it had to be terrifying. Trusting Jesus so completely for the well-being of someone they all cared about.

That’s my sticking place. I don’t have a problem trusting Him with me. It’s trusting Him to take care of the people I love that I struggle with the most.

But these four guys were out of options. Jesus was their only hope, and they were determined to do whatever was necessary to get their friend at His feet. But what I love about this story isn’t that the paralyzed man had faith that Jesus would heal him. It’s that his friends had faith that Jesus would heal him. And it was because of the friends’ faith that Jesus responded.

And I don’t know if that resonates with you like it does with me today, but it’s something I need to remind myself of frequently. I don’t know if you recognize this, but we live in a really screwed-up world. Nothing is as it should be. People hurt each other. Families self-destruct. Friends tear each other to bits.

Trapped in the middle of all of it, helpless and useless, I watch. There’s nothing I can do. I have no words of comfort to speak. I have no wisdom to share or encouragement to offer. What can you say in the face of so much brokenness? When people you love are hurting so badly, what can you do?

And then I remember the four friends. What did they do? They brought their friend to Jesus. Whether their friend believed Jesus could make a difference or not was irrelevant. They believed it. And that’s where I’m trying to stand in our world today.

Regardless of what happens, I believe that whatever God does will be something beautiful. Maybe it won’t start off feeling that way, but He’ll turn even the darkest moments into shining light. I believe that with all my heart. But beyond clinging to the vague, ethereal hope that everything will be okay eventually, I’m not afraid to ask Him to fix what’s wrong in our world right now.

I know what some end-times scholars will say. The way the world is just means Jesus is coming back sooner. The world is supposed to be this way. And maybe they’re right, but they don’t know.

Yes, eventually everything will be okay. But what would have happened if those four friends took that perspective? Sure, their paralyzed buddy might have suffered in this life, but when he dies, he’ll be in paradise. I’m sure their friend was thankful afterward that they hadn’t thought that way.

And just like them, I don’t want to give in to the “eventually” club. Yes, God will make everything right in the end, but it’s not the end. Not yet. We’re close, but we’re still here. And as long as we’re here, why not ask for a miracle? Why not believe He can do the impossible?

Who cares if you’re the only one who believes it? What does it matter if you have to dig a hole and get your hands dirty? What does it matter if people look at you funny? If you believe Jesus is what your friends need, then wouldn’t you do everything in your power to get them to Him?

So drop everything right now and bring your friends to Jesus. Just lay them at His feet. Maybe you can’t do it physically, but you can do it emotionally and spiritually. And don’t just ask Him to help because you feel like you have to. Ask Him for help because you know He can, because He’s the only one who can.

Maybe it’s your faith that’s the key.