Around this time last year, I was trying to think of goals for myself for 2018 and what I wanted to accomplish and strive for. The word that kept coming back up over and over was “discipline”. So, how was I going to strive on working on discipline in my life? How about run a marathon? It was one of those distant bucket list goals that seemed so far out of reach, but the perfect way to practice discipline. So in early summer, I put my money where my mouth was and signed up for my first (and last) full marathon.
Fast forward to November, the day of the marathon is here. I had spent months being disciplined with my training and finally the day was here to see all my hard work pay off. I was doing it, I was achieving my goal of discipline. But, for me, the goal was not going to be met until I finished the race and crossed that finish line, whether by my own two feet or someone dragging me across it.
The race started pretty smooth and I felt good. They say that you aren’t mentally halfway done with the race until you reach mile 20. Its true. At about mile 15, I started struggling a little bit and once I hit mile 18, the anxiety really started to hit.
“I can’t do this.”
“Why did I ever sign up for this?”
“I could just stop, lay down, and someone would eventually pick me up right?”
Those were a few of the thoughts swirling in my head. I had 6 miles left, but it seemed like an eternity. I wanted so badly to give up. I was tired, uncomfortable, and my mental strength was waning. There were several times I almost stopped and threw the towel in, but my goal wasn’t accomplished yet. So, I kept pushing, running and fighting the temptation to give up.
I went into that race wanting to gain discipline of the mind and body, but the Lord taught me a lot more than that. He taught me about not giving into the temptation of giving up.
I can pinpoint several moments in my life where I was tempted too easily to give up. I have given up on people, goals, my unanswered prayers, myself, and if I am completely honest, I feel like I have given up on God at times. When it gets too hard and too uncomfortable, I tend to back up and start to walk away, thinking “maybe it will be easier if I just give up.”
The reality is that it is never easier. It always leaves me less satisfied, full of regret, frustration and disappointment.
I don’t like to be uncomfortable. I don’t like the hard places. I don’t like to be burdened and inconvenienced. Yet, God doesn’t call us to give up. He calls us to keep on pushing and trusting Him, even in the most difficult of moments.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:1-3
Here is my challenge to myself, as well as you.
Don’t give up on your prayers.
Don’t give up on your people.
Don’t give up on yourself.
Don’t give up when you have failed in sin.
Most importantly, don’t give up on God.
The beauty about God and his grace is that He never gives up on us. The battle was won on the cross when He sent his Son to defeat death so that we would get to experience the fullness of His love and grace. He calls us back when we stray away, embracing us with open arms.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”Hebrews 10:23
A Renewed Hope
So why don’t we have to give up? We have hope. Death was defeated when Christ died on the cross and we have a God who is bigger than any fear, hurdle, obstacle and challenge that we face. He is faithful when we are faithless and He loves us where we are at.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
I am not sure what type of season you’re in. What prayer you pray time and time again that seems like will never be answered. What person you are ready to just give up loving on because they constantly reject you.
But, I would encourage you with this: Don’t limit God and don’t put Him in a box. Allow Him to work through you and don’t give in to that temptation of giving up so easily.
Looking back on my marathon, I am so glad I crossed that finish line (on my own two feet). It was not easy by any means, but it taught me about persevering and not giving up on the goal that I had set out to meet. Our faith and journey on this earth is like a race, it’s not promised to be easy, it’s going to be messy and full of ups and downs, but our finish line and reward in eternity is far greater than anything we can imagine.
Keep pushing. Keep fighting. Keep trusting.
“ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”2 Timothy 4:7