2 Corinthians 4:1, “ Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
How many of you recognize the picture above? It’s the picture of one of the most memorable scenes in one of the greatest movies of the 1980’s – The Karate Kid. I’ll never forget what was said in that scene. The instructor was telling the student, “Quitting is not an option in this dojo – is it Mr. Lawrence.”. Mr. Lawrence ( the student ) then replies, “No, sensei!”. Quitting was not an option for the students in the dojo, but more importantly quitting is not an option for the Christian. The Christian’s dojo is the life and world that we are living in right now. In this dojo of life, we cannot quit!
Last week our congregation at church took a test together. The test was about reflecting and inspecting our lives from a spiritual ( Christian ) perspective. As I was preparing the test and message earlier that week for the message last night I found it to be very convicting. There were 12 questions that were asked in the test, but one that really stuck out to me. The question was, “Are you wanting to quit?”. That particular question didn’t stick out to me because I am struggling to keep going day after day, but I know so many people that are facing that issue right now. I would also like to be clear that I am not perfect in this area either. If we’re honest with one another, we have all probably struggled with quitting in some fashion at one time or another.
I remember as a young married man in the ministry, working a second job, and still going to school full time thinking about how much easier things would have been if I just quit something. In fact, I still look back from time to time and have no idea how I pulled everything off during that time of my life. At night, I was working in the international hub at Fed Ex in Memphis. I would go in around 10pm and get off around 4am. Every night I would have to ride the bus from one parking lot over to the hub building. It’s the same thing thousands of people still do every night at that hub today. Surrounded by 50 other people on a bus, I had never felt lonelier in my life at that point. For me, it was miserable because I was so fatigued physically that I wanted to do nothing. Yet, every morning I would be back in class at 7:30am and then off to the church where I served for the rest of the afternoon. Afterwards, I would arrive home around 5 or 6pm, spend a few hours with my new bride, and back for my nightly work at Fed Ex. Yes, there was a long stretch of time at the beginning of our marriage where I only got 3.5 to 4.5 hours of sleep a night. ( You read correctly ).
With all that said, there were so many times I thought about quitting, but I kept going. The big question was, “What kept me going?”. It was love for Jesus and love for my new bride. God had provided more for me than I could ever attempt to repay, and I had the honor of providing for my wife. It was my God-given duty, no my privilege to provide for her. So, with God’s help each day He helped me to muster up enough strength and character to keep going.
Yes, there were times that humanly I was miserable because fatigue would set in, but I look back on those days now and see what God was building within my life, my family, and my ministry. The things He was building within me were priceless. I could not have learned them any other way, but through the experience God took me through. Reading about an experience like that would not have been the same. Hearing someone else’s experience close to that would not have been the same. The way God chose to work in my life was through experiencing those difficult times and letting Him instill the discipline within me to keep on keeping on.
If you’re thinking about quitting today I want to encourage you to keep on going. Someone may be asking is striving to be more Christ-like really worth it? I striving to honor God really worth the time and effort? Is taking time to be committed to serving at church getting me anywhere? The truth is this. We don’t keep going because we have had some great success, or already obtained perfection in these areas of our lives. We keep on going because we come to the point that we realize ANY struggle, ANY difficulty, ANY hardship we face in life, with God’s involvement in our life is FAR better than a smooth sailing day without Him. We keep going because God is so wonderful that we desire to be more like Him, and we desire to please Him because we love Him.
I think sometimes we give in and give up right before the blessings God brings. Today, if you have your eyes on yourself and your own strength it is very likely that you will soon run out of gas and QUIT. However, if we have our eyes on Christ, and we rest and trust in His strength ( and not our own ) you will come to understand that there is power in Him. You will “run and not be weary”. God will keep you going even when you don’t want to go. It’s not about our happiness. It’s not about our comfort. It’s not about even living or having the “good life”. It’s about a relationship with Jesus!