I Quit

I quit my job last week.  I still don’t have a job.  We have no money (well, very little).  I have only sent out one application for a job that I might not get.

This is a picture that I would not want to paint for anyone, and certainly did not want to paint for myself.

Everything is wrong except the part where I tell God that I’ll obey Him.  Now it has taken me a while to obey Him, but I did it in the end.

I tried to work up an emotional frenzy to decide to obey.  I became angry and bitter, largely because I wanted an easier path to obedience.  I wanted assurances that obedience wouldn’t cost me more than I could afford, or that there would be a payoff I could see before I chose to obey.

Yeah, faith in God doesn’t work that way.

I knew the stories of the priests stepping into the raging Jordan River, the worshipers, not the soldiers, that lead the charge into battle, Ananias going to meet with the murderous Saul of Tarsus.  But I really wanted an easier path, one with less risk involved.

In the middle of it, when I am experiencing the turmoil of fears and a peace that is beyond understanding, do I get to see God.  Worship is different and has taken on new meaning, and that is good.

I don’t want my praise, my prayers to be lying platitudes to a God I don’t believe in.

I want to fly.

Don’t Quit

As my head emerged from the water, I knew I was in trouble.

Stupidity, meanness had brought me to this place of cold and death.  Pride and humiliation had combined to make me step off the bank into the icey depths.  But, I don’t think I thought about dying until I resurfaced and saw them standing on the bank.

It dawned on me then that my brother had maybe been in the same situation all those years before.  He had stepped into a November river, been shocked by the cold, and then died.  Maybe he saw us figuratively standing on the bank.  He certainly died alone.  Maybe he saw nothing but his pain.

For me, the sight of my children there, watching me die, was enough to bring me back, to not submit to numbing lethargy, to not give up.  I swam back to the bank and pulled my soaking wet, frozen body out of the water.

I know God gave me strength.  I know I had a choice.

I think maybe there is someone out there who needed to hear this story today.  Someone addicted, someone struggling with pride and fear, with stupidity and anger, that just needs to hear, “Don’t quit!”

Pride and fear, being stupid and mean toward others are forms of quitting.  So is giving in to addiction.  Love, courage, understanding, humility, kindness, they take work,strength that is beyond our human frame.

God will give you strength.  You will have to choose.

I know I need Him every second of every day.  I know I have a choice, every second of every day.  So I say to you, and to myself.

Don’t quit.

When to say when…

When is it ok to call it quits?  When do we get to take a break?  It can seem like a constant fight, constant struggle when you are in ministry.  You have pastors and leaders over you, leaders with you and people under you and at times your at odds with everyone.

When can we step back and reassess?  When is it good to question what you are doing?

Never, always, sometimes, I don’t know.

Let’s take a look at the battle weary soldier surrounded by the enemy, fighting for his life.  Not the time to call it quits, I think.  The temptation is certainly there.  Just give up, let them shoot you and be done with it.  But there are others around you, a purpose inside of you.  That is where you must know what you are fighting for.  This is the time to scream at yourself and in the face of fear, “MOVE OUT!  Get up, get going, fight!”

You might not know this, but one of the hardest times is when the “battle” is over and there is a time of peace.  Our purpose, our calling can seem so clear when we are fighting.  Then it all evaporates when there is a lull.  Time to take a break?  Yes.  Time to look for a new fight?  Yes.  Time to get some feeding and rest?  Yes.  Time to reassess, question, listen, get into God’s word?  Yes.  Because, as a soldier, you know the enemy will be back.  You know that it is only a matter of time.  Time to call it quits?  Please hear me.  Check your wounds.  Be honest with your brothers and sisters that hold you up.  Ministry can cut deep.  This is no place for wimpy christians.  We will get beat up and we have to have those around us who can honestly tell us when we’re to bloodied to continue.  We need bandages, ointment, stitches, breaks reset, tourniquets from time to time, people to lean on, just like any warrior would.  Know the medics in your life, and if you don’t have any, find them – be them for others.

And yes, in the end, there is a time when we pass the sword, the staff, the mantle, the fight onto those who can continue.  But let that be at the end.  Don’t see it until you’ve got no more fight to give.  Many are leaving, giving up before it is time.  Don’t.

“It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.”  So the hymn says.  Live more.  Love more.  Fight more.

Don’t give up.