Defying the Urge to Quit

Most people aren’t raised to take much of anything. In a culture where everything is geared towards our instant gratification or entertainment, many aren’t equipped to “fight the good fight” of faith and life. Most people quit when things are out of control because let’s keep things honest here, when you can control the situation there is a sense victory in just that. But when what you expect doesn’t turn out to be, or the best motives and intentions cause unexpected conflict or challenges, there is an urge in all of us that wants to quit. This can refer to relationships, jobs, even keeping up a house with a husband, 4 kids and a dog; heck, just a house and a dog. How easily we purpose ourselves and set out to accomplish a “to do” list interrupted by the urgent which can make us throw up our hands and start to question everything in life.

What happens though when God has birthed a vision on your heart…or you have the opportunity to pursue a lifetime dream and suddenly you are out of your comfort zone? We come to church and deal with fleshly sins such as language, adultery, stealing, idolatry, but someone can look “holy” on the outside but really be a weakling in the spirit. The truth is, as long as you are all clean on the outside; no one really knows what the depth of your character will expose when faced with adversity. The bible calls them sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. There are things that attack the flesh and things that attack the spirit. Now I am going to go ahead and speak like Paul when I say “this is what I say” and make some observations from experience. You can have someone that doesn’t struggle with fleshly things. They don’t smoke, they don’t drink, run around with women but until you marry them or get on the job with them; until you are working side by side do you realize that they don’t keep their word… they don’t show up on time… they quit easy… they don’t complete their assignments or they are completely indecisive from one moment to the other. They wouldn’t take a drink if their life depended on it but they don’t have the faith or Godly character to stand by you through a fight in the lion’s den.

Aside from other people or situations there is just the fight of life, where we go through seasons and lose time, courage, money. What do you do when you lose the fight (and there will be many you lose along the way) when the enemy is within. I have thus far fought a good fight. I have fought with liars, backbiters, betrayers and abusers. I have lost. I have lost money, friends, family, time, courage, pride, tenacity, sleep; but, what keeps me going…what needs to keep us all going is knowing that God is in the battle with us. He is our strength in weakness, our refuge in vulnerability, our provider no matter what. It’s not what other people say about you that will cause you to be defeated. It’s what you say about you that will defeat you.

Winning is not for the faint of heart. You have to fight to get up on your feet after defeat. You have to fight to get out bed sometimes. You have to fight to keep believing when there is no money in the checkbook. You have to keep fighting when everyone tells you what you are doing is ridiculous. You see, it’s not about the fights along the way, it’s about the race. While running the race you are really fighting areas in your life that need to be often put to death in order to finish. I know I have fought with my fears, my doubt, my insecurities, alone and with those I believed were my friends but what matters most is that you keep fighting to run the race. If you can’t walk, then you fight to crawl, and if you can’t stand anymore then you fight sitting down, I even had to fight with family and there were nights that I couldn’t even sleep because I was fighting with myself…FIGHT A GOOD FIGHT…I fought so much at times what others consider ”fighting the good fight of faith” is just a normal day. I fought such a good fight that my perception of what a fight is has been revolutionized.

Paul (the old man) tells Timothy, the young man…”I fought a good fight.” You may not have seen it. You saw all the glamour, the healings, but let me tell you what you didn’t see, I kept the faith when my family didn’t stand by me, I fought a good fight when my check book was empty, I fought a good fight when I couldn’t walk anymore and I had to crawl…but I fought good fight…I lost a lot of stuff along the way, I lost a lot of friends, I lost a lot of strength, I lost a lot of money, I lost a lot of courage, I lost a lot of time, but I kept down on my knees, I kept believing in the God who “watches over His Word so it doesn’t return void” and I kept believing. Lonely I kept believing, betrayed I kept believing. Abused and abandoned I kept believing!…NO MATTER WHAT KEEP THE FAITH…The point I am trying to make is keep running the race even if you fall down. Keep running the race even if you have to put your pride aside and ask someone to help carry you around…keep running.

I get concerned because we are living in a world that has become comfortable with quitting. Comfortable with getting an incomplete in school. Too many are okay with an incomplete life. Forget winning for a moment…just stand. Are you the type of person that people can count on to stand? Sometimes it’s all you can do to stand but can people count on you to stand…to stick it out…to endure. Can people count on you past happy.

In my counseling or ministry it used to be “I’m leaving because he beats me; I’m leaving him because he is homicidal; I’m leaving him because he won’t stop cheating” now people say I’m leaving because I’m not happy. Who promised you were going to be happy? What does that have to do with anything? Who do you know in your life that is happy all the time? When you quit, you have to live with infection that you carry… This turns into the propensity not to finish. Paul says I finished the course…I didn’t finish your course…or my parents course or my children’s course or my best friends course. But I finished THE COURSE.

I’m not trying to get into your business. People who care about finishing their course are not concerned about other people’s business. They are too focused. More often than not, it’s all they can do to finish their own course. Someone reading this has quit so many things that you have lost respect for yourself. Say “Lord give me the grace”. Paul says I got so depressed that I saw people getting healed yet I struggled with the thorn within me which I had to carry. The contradictions of being powerful outwardly but struggling to the core inwardly. That often times is enough to make you want to quit. Yet, Paul still finished the course with a God who said no to his own prayer. What do you do when you are better on the outside than you are on the inside? When you can get rid of other people’s thorns but you have to bear your own? When God says no. Isn’t it amazing sometimes at how easy it can be to fix other people lives but defying the urge to quit can take every ounce of energy you can muster? To fix your own life takes so much energy you don’t even know where to start sometimes.

Even Jesus struggled with finishing. He went to the garden of Gethsemane He prayed not once, not twice, but three times: “Father, this is more difficult than I imagined…is there any way I can get out of this…but not my will but Your will. Jesus said “Father I would prefer another way. This is far more difficult than I imagined. Is there a way out of this other than the road before me?” What matters is not that He was tempted. What matters is that Jesus as our mediator and high priest knows the struggle but He didn’t give into it. Your will not mine was His final prayer. Is there anyone that has ever prayed “Can I get out of this? Being me is not going so good, Lord, can I quit.” Finally he says…”Not my will” which means not my way, not my style, not what I wanted, not what I liked, THY WILL BE DONE. Defying the urge to quit is victory. You have to talk to you and tell yourself that this is harder than I expected, this has challenges I never considered, and I may not be the first across the line but I will finish. I may not be the best wife, the best husband, the best mother, the best son, the best friend, the best Christian but I will keep crawling until I cross the finish line by the Grace of God.

If you are struggling in a tough season right now know you are not alone. Sometimes the victory is in just not giving up. I’m quite sure everyone thought the Wright brothers were absolutely ridiculous with their idea to fly or what about the concept of electricity? These are just as crazy notions as Noah building an ark for a flood during a time when there was no rain. God has given you the ability to dream and create and although you might not be the first man or woman to walk on Mars…getting through the day with a challenging child make take the same amount of courage some days. No matter what you are facing, I promise you that God is faithful. He is either faithful or a liar. I have personally tested Him enough to know that even in my darkest moments…I no longer need to see the other side because I know He never leaves me nor forsakes me. He has only good plans for you and me. Stick it out till your rainbow shows up. If you need some solid biblical counseling to get through a tough time or maybe just some coaching, planning with a sound counselor, please contact Dr. Baldwin through our “Contact Us” link.

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