Have you ever felt like quitting?
As in, just giving up on everything you are striving for at this moment? This could play out a number of ways. Maybe you are trying to beat an addiction and you keep caving in. Or, maybe you are trying to learn something new and struggling to adapt. Maybe you have a dream that seems like it will never come to pass.
As somebody who was once an avid runner, and currently exercises regularly, I can say it isn’t always easy to break through your limitations. Likewise, this applies to our spiritual lives as well. At times our weaknesses will no doubt wrongly convince us that we are hopeless. There is alway a point when you are tempted to give up prematurely. But what I have discovered, is that there is value in momentum. That is, staying in the moment as you continue to progress. There is something about the pattern of perseverance that ultimately pays off. As Newton’s first law of motion states; An object at rest stays at rest, but, an object in motion…
Stays in motion.
If we are ever going to make it onto the next level, we will need to learn how to develop this kind of consistency. That is not to say that we should push ourselves excessively . In fact, scripture strongly emphasizes the importance of rest in several places (Psalm 46:10, Matthew 11:28-30, Hebrews 4). We are not Gods, and it isn’t healthy to think we can operate on his level. Furthermore, even God rested to set an example for us. On the other hand, I also believe that we have a responsibility to develop ourselves to the fullest extent of our potential.
How do we do this?
Not alone, I can tell you that much.
Admittedly, the first person I think of when I explore the topic of perseverance, is the apostle Paul. How could we not give him the credit he deserves? After all, he is responsible for planting a massive amount of the church planting that occurred in the early years of Christianity. His words also compromise a significant portion of the New Testament.
But Paul wasn’t alone.
In fact, I would say that part of his success was largely due to his ability to create and maintain connections. He acquainted himself with a variety of different people (probably due to the nature of his work). And like most of us, he was closer to some more than others. While he certainly had a wide circle of influence, he nonetheless chose only a few to invest in on a more personal level.
One of these few, was none other than Paul’s partner and protégé, Timothy. And while Timothy didn’t naturally possess the confidence of his mentor, he nonetheless was able to leave his mark on the early church. In fact, Paul often expressed his confidence in Timothy through his letters. Even as the apostle neared his death, he felt it was worthwhile to instill encouragement in this upcoming preacher of the gospel.
Among his compilation of letters, the books that were written to Timothy has always stuck out to me. As this letter opens, the apostle is stationed in prison, and is nonetheless faith-filled. Here is what Paul has to say to his partner Timothy:
2 Timothy 1:6-9 (NIV)- ”For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”
Bold words for a prisoner. Am I right?
It certainly would be difficult to stay strong in this predicament. And yet, in the eyes of Paul, the continuation of the gospel to the next generation was not only preferable, but an absolute priority. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and unwilling to stay silent. He was adamant about living his life the way Christ did, and he relentlessly ‘stayed in motion’ despite his circumstances. And, he encouraged Timothy to fan his gifts into flame and and depend on Christ in order to reach his full potential.
Paul knew that there is so much more to do in God’s kingdom, and quitting was not an option.
No worthwhile goal is ever easy to pursue when we first begin.
It takes time to gain momentum in our mental, physical, and spiritual lives. Not to mention, it is difficult to get back on track once we have allowed ourselves to stray for a little while (even temporarily). Once we ‘fall off the horse’ so to speak, it can seem daunting, or even impossible to try and get back on. Naturally, discipline isn’t always fun to develop. It is however, worth it.
However, I believe the key to achieving victory in our weak areas is found not in our independence, but in our dependence. That is, our dependence on Christ, and support from other believers. Our strength is found in our intimacy with God, as well as our ties to our spiritual family (the church). It is found in discovering our place; in continually pursuing our purpose and refusing to compromise for even a moment.
If you have hit a bump in the road, don’t give up. Don’t allow your weakness to prevent you from reaching your full potential. Don’t succumb to the temptation to lay down in defeat.
If you have experienced failure, don’t wallow in it. Pick yourself back up and seek out the encouragement you need. Or better yet, encourage someone else. Look around you and find the people that God has placed in your path; the people that are in your life for a reason. Your circumstances are not an accident…they are a chance for you break new ground and gain momentum.
Hidden within plain sight, God is revealing his purposes. He is instilling in you a desire to make a difference. He has called you to be a light. He has given you an opportunity.
Now make the most of it.
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