Don't give up!
Those are the words coursing through my thoughts this morning as I sit down to ponder God's love letter. Is it a hard day for you or something? Maybe it's been a difficult month or perhaps year. I don't know. All I know is that the Spirit is telling me to write:
Don't Give Up!
Too often too many people lose heart when the goal is in sight. Or it's a case where victory is just around the corner but they quit before turning the corner. My pastor says that many people drown five feet from shore not knowing the shore is within reach.
Perseverance seems easy at first but when a day drags into a week and then a week into a month, a month into a year and then a year into a decade, a person can begin to second guess themselves. "Is this God's will?" "Would he really ask me to go through all of this?" "I can't see any purpose in this any more." The enemy also likes to stir things up by introducing little seeds of doubt., especially when the work is hard and the "crop yield" is low. But sometimes the ministry or work is more to do with what God is producing in us then it is about what success we are meeting. As I have said in the past, success for us is measured in our faithfulness to Jesus, in what we have been asked to do. Going the distance takes a great deal of perseverance which produces other things in us as well:
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:2-5)
Sometimes it is all about holding on as God fights the battle. Sometimes it's about pushing through great opposition to reach the goal. Sometimes it is simply believing that God is working it all out to his glory. However, it is always about never giving up, never retreating, never sitting by the side of the road because, if it is not about anything else, it is about what God is doing in you:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Perseverance is bringing us into a maturity. Perhaps that explains the great immaturity among believers in this current age. Praise the Lord that you and I are not like that. We don't know the meaning of quit as we go forward trusting the Lord. However, we come close to failing. I almost failed this summer.
Our school has been facing a bit of a hard time. It is difficult to exist in our part of the world where Christians make up such a tiny part of the population. A great deal of immaturity exists among the Christians that do exist. There is a great deal of low income among the english speaking population to whom we minister. This summer we were facing so many problems we started to allow the thought in that maybe God just wants us to close down. After 8 years maybe our mission was over. The enemy can be so subtle about these things. However, I felt no release from the Lord. We had to push through.
As we made that decision a new determination started to come in. The ministers in the school started making difficult, self-sacrificing decisions. We stopped looking at our deficiencies and concentrated on our strengths. What looked impossible days ago suddenly looked a little more possible as we lifted our eyes to Jesus. The only thing that had changed was our mentality, our decision to persevere in this ministry. Today we are opening our doors for our 9th year and we are all convinced that it is going to be a glorious year in serving our Lord.
Don't give up!
In Hebrews we read this encouraging note:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
We only start thinking about giving up when we allow our eyes to start straying. It's when we look around at other people and compare our situation to theirs. It is when we start looking at what we lack compared to what other people have. It is when we starting thinking "what am I getting out of this". Perseverance only remains important to us when Jesus remains important to us. Don't give up! The Kingdom needs you. What you are doing is important or God would not have called you to it. Trust him. Trust that he has purpose. Trust that he is also producing something in you through this, bringing you to a place of maturity. It takes a lot to go the distance with Jesus but I am certain that you and I have what it takes. Let us give all the glory to God as he leads us from glory to glory, victory to victory! Stand your ground in the face of the enemy's schemes.