(originally published January 6, 2013)
This past fall I made the significant achievement of completing my first 5K! It was a goal I had made for myself at the beginning of the summer and worked very hard to train for. As the months of training progressed, so did the anticipation of finishing the race. Throughout my training, it was commonly asked by the "serious" runners what finish time I wanted to achieve. I would explain to each that I had no set time; just a desire to finish the race, and to finish it well.
On the brisk fall morning of the run, excitement was high. I made a pact with a co-worker (a regular marathon runner) and my boss to run the entire race together. As I started off, energy was good and I couldn't have asked for better running conditions. However, over the hills and through the streets three miles in and I was about ready to give up. My training had taken me down straight and easy roads, and I was ill-prepared for the more difficult hills that this 5K brought my way.
I had been anticipating this 5K for months and started off the run with high-hopes, however as the difficulty increased, my endurance decreased. It was only at the encouragement (and pushing) of my co-workers was I able to finish that race. As I began to mutter words of wanting to give up, they showed me that the finish line was near and encouraged me to sprint as fast as I could to the end. I gave everything I had left to finish that race and let me tell you, boy did it feel amazing to do so!
My experience at that 5K reminds me very much of certain points in my life. There have been opportunities or situations or relationships that started off very well and all seemed right with the world. Eventually difficulty or obstacles arose, as they often do, that I was not quite ready to handle. In those moments, and I'm sure you can relate from your own circumstances, I debated giving up. I wanted a way out; anything to get me out of the difficulty I was in. It was in my early twenties, a relatively new believer at the time, that God brought me to a beautiful verse that strengthens me each time I find myself in this place:
"So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised." Hebrews 10.35-36
This verse speaks to a particular situation that has one meaning, however we know that although a verse has one meaning there are many applications. The application in my life that this verse has had is invaluable. It has encouraged me to keep going when the going got tough. It has pushed me to persevere and move forward even though I have wanted to give up. You must know that 'there will ALWAYS be situations that will cause us to want to give up. But we cant.
I wonder how many times I have given up on something or someone just before God was about to answer that prayer? I wonder how many dreams I, and all of us, have missed because we gave up too soon?
Let's be honest about a down fall of our current generation, shall we. Can you be transparent with me for a moment? Our generation wants things easy. We are a society of instant gratification, are we not? Innovation is always at work creating the latest gadgets to make life easier. Movies tell us stories of love at first sight. The media feeds our appetite for "I want it and I want it now." How could we not desire to give in? When anything gets tough, we instantly believe it's "not meant to be" or "it's not worth it" and we give up. We give up and we move on to what seemingly appears to be the next best thing. Ironically, anything worth having requires some work and endurance, so we find ourselves in a constant cycle of disappointment.
Work is not a bad thing. In fact, I think the lack of it may be one of the great deficiencies of our culture. I would say we are all very busy, but busy at what? Busy at obtaining and maintaining the things of this world, but unwilling to fight and work for the most precious gifts in life. We all have this voice telling us to keep busy with the distractions of this world, but where is the innate spark to work for what really matters in life?
We were not created by God to be quitters or to be lazy or to....lack faith. Is that not what it boils down to? We lack the faith to see the storms through? We lack the conviction that God is working (even when we can't see it) and do not step out into what He has for us. I"ll admit it was my lack of faith that caused me to give up at times.
We must be PATIENT (I know, that requires waiting) and ENDURE (even harder because it means we can't run away) to receive the reward and promises God has for you. It means relying on the Lord and not on ourselves (constant note to myself!). I am reminded of what John MacArthur said in his commentary on verse 26, "To trust in Christ fully by living daily in the will of the Father." We cannot be people of God who throw away our confident trust in Him!
I've lost things that have really mattered because it was too tough to see it through or I tried to take the easy way out. What about you? A dream? A relationship? It's a question that is not meant to guilt you, but to help you recognize that God has so much more for you than you could ever imagine! Let's commit together, you and me, to be people who won't give up. I'm not talking about forcing the hand, but if God has put something on your heart or has a direction for you, don't give up!
I can't stress enough; I believe this is a message that is very important for me to share and I want to communicate it clearly:
THE BEST THAT GOD HAS FOR YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE GREATEST CHALLENGE.
Don't give up. Please, oh please, do not give up. Not only are we all in this together, but more importantly, we have a Savior interceding on our behalf at the right hand of God. He is our sustainer. He is our provider. He is our victory.
Don't give up on the dreams and plans God has for you!