Sunday, July 27, 2008

Don't Quit

Don huddled in the freezing cold with a group of other guys around a pitifully small fire. The guys were chatting but Don was lost in thought, staring at the embers. “One shot,” he thought. “One shot and it would all be over.” He was fondling the frozen, wooden grip of his pistol. The “one shot” was a well-aimed pistol-shot through his foot. One carefully self-inflicted gun-shot wound would end the freezing, the pain, the hunger. It would get him off the line and, most likely, back to England and out of the war – perhaps for good.

Yes, it would be quitting. But it was so cold! And the things he had seen! Just yesterday, one friend had died and another two had been severely wounded and were heading home.

One shot would end the war for him. But at what cost? He realized that it would cost him his integrity and that would be too high a cost.

Nearly ten years earlier, his father had quit. It was during the Great Depression. It had finally caught up with his father’s insurance business. They lost everything – money, the house, everything. But to Don, there was no sin it that. Most everyone was affected by the Depression. The sin was not that his father lost everything. It was that his father had quit.

Now, in that foxhole in the forest outside of Bastogne, Belgium in January, 1945, Don was faced with a similar choice. Quit or fight on?

Don chose to fight on.

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! – Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Message)

We all face times when we want to quit. We’re tired, we’re weary, we couldn’t possibly go on like this. A marriage that has fallen on near-impossible times. A job that we detest. A boss that we can’t work for. A member at church that we just are tired of with all their complaining. It would be easier to just give up, to quit.

But at what cost? God did not create us to be quitters! He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins to give us the power to overcome everything in this life. Through the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we can get through our “winters.” We can fight on, run the race, strive for the prize. Christ did! He blazed the trail for us. Don’t give up! Stay on that trail, because Christ came back and now walks with us – side-by-side, and sometimes carrying us – as we run the race.

Don’t quit. All may seem lost but it really isn’t. You can keep fighting. God will give you that power. When you feel like quitting, remember this: This is exactly what Satan wants you to do. This is the moment that he’s most fearful of. C.S. Lewis wrote, in The Screwtape Letters, (a fictional account of one devil’s letters – Screwtape – to another devil, Wormwood), “Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human … looks round upon a universe from which every trace of the enemy [God] seems to have vanished, asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys” (emphasis added).

I'm homesick—longing for your salvation; I'm waiting for your word of hope. My eyes grow heavy watching for some sign of your promise; how long must I wait for your comfort? There's smoke in my eyes—they burn and water, but I keep a steady gaze on the instructions you post. How long do I have to put up with all this? How long till you haul my tormentors into court? The arrogant godless try to throw me off track, ignorant as they are of God and his ways. Everything you command is a sure thing, but they harass me with lies. Help! They've pushed and pushed—they never let up—but I haven't relaxed my grip on your counsel. In your great love revive me so I can alertly obey your every word. Psalm 119:81-83 (The Message)

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