Wheat at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Endure when it feels like nothing will change

For me, the hardest part of endurance is the length of time I have to wait before I see results. I’ve mentioned before that I really hate waiting. I don’t mind training and preparing and planning, but once what I have trained and planned and prepared for has happened, I want immediate results. I want to see a ROI–a return on investment, as we call it in the marketing world. But most of the time that’s not how it works.

Following Christ and living for God is less like a marketing campaign and more like wheat farming. In a marketing campaign, you do the work, you submit the materials, and you wait for your leads to come in so you can track them down and try to convince them to buy product. It’s all very rapid, and you get fast results. In wheat farming, or other types of farming, you plow your ground, you plant your seed, and then you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And pray that it doesn’t get hailed to bits or blown away. And pray that there’s enough rain but not too much. And you keep waiting until it’s finally time to harvest.

That’s what the Christian life is like. And that’s why we need to learn how to endure patiently because some things can’t be rushed, and if you give up too soon, you’ll miss out.

Wheat at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Galatians 6:9.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

It’s hard to do the right thing. It’s hard to press on and do good when all it seems to accomplish is to get you in trouble or to encourage others to take advantage of you, but that’s what we are called to do. As Christ-followers, we are called to live a life that honors God, and that means living according to the Bible. And maybe you didn’t know this, but the Bible isn’t exactly popular anymore. If you want to be politically correct, the Bible isn’t really the source for that.

It’s tiring to live the way the Bible says in a culture that mocks everything you believe. And it’s growing more and more difficult every day, it seems. And sometimes, in that quiet dark corner of my heart that I don’t like to admit is there, I wonder if it’s really worth it.

Have you ever been there? Where you’re just tired of being treated like a fool? Or you’re tired of always having to do the right thing and be branded as a goody-two-shoes? Or be labeled as “The Christian” when you really know the label means “self-righteous” to the people who use it?

Or are you tired of having to deal with other Christians? I think sometimes we focus on how frustrating it is to work in a culture with people who don’t believe the same way we do, but what about having to work with people who do believe the same way you do? It’s twice as frustrating because we have expectations for how Christians are supposed to behave, and when they don’t meet those expectations, it’s easy to get angry.

I get tired. I get worn out. I get exhausted with dealing with people and situations and circumstances, and there never seems to be an end to any of it. But then, I see a verse like today’s verse and I remember that many times I’m just in the growing phase of the season. People are growing. I’m growing. And if I try to harvest too quickly, I’ll kill my crop.

That’s why we have to endure. That’s why we can’t give up, whether you’re dealing with believers or unbelievers. We’re planting seeds every day, and maybe we’ll see something sprout. Maybe we won’t, but most of the time we’re going to harvest something. Maybe we won’t recognize it. Maybe we won’t even realize it, especially if we aren’t looking for it.

So don’t give up. And if you’re frustrated, try shifting your focus. Instead of seeing only how long you have to wait, try looking at how much your crop is growing while you’re waiting. We had so much moisture recently here in Kansas that the wheat outside my window has turned the most brilliant shade of green I’ve seen since last March. I got so used to the dull, dead colors of winter that seeing so much green nearly brought tears to my eyes.

And it reminded me that even in a season when it feels like nothing is growing, something is. You just have to look for it.

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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.