Quitting. At times it can feel like the best option. The hill gets too high. The road gets too long. The reward doesn’t justify the effort.
A New York Times article recently gave 20 examples of people who decided to quit in areas such as their job, band, friendships, dating, and yes, their church. I didn’t read all of them. But in the ones I did, it appeared that a common reason was because they simply got tired. The goal seemed too far.
The one about quitting church reflected those thoughts. The author had seen adults live in such a way that didn’t reflect the qualities they preached. Actions didn’t match words. Prophetic statements didn’t come to fruition. It left that writer jaded to religion as a whole and his church in particular, so he left.
The desire to quit brings an immediate satisfaction that you can leave a particular area of your life behind. The new beckons. A clean slate offers the chance to either start on a new venture or rewrite the original more to our liking.
But when I think of that, it leads me to reflect on our love for the underdog, the one who overcomes. We love them because they face a situation and beat it even when it looks hopeless.
The shepherd boy takes down a giant. A team of American college kids defeat an unbeatable Soviet hockey team. Daniel crane-kicks Johnny to win the All-Valley Karate Tournament. One moment we’re hoping someone doesn’t get embarrassed, the next we can’t believe what we just saw. They’re all moments that show us the power of possibility.
Examples are found throughout Scripture of men and women of God who were given a seemingly impossible task, but they were faithful and obeyed. That’s not to say they witnessed the fruits of their efforts, but they saw things through.
Think of Ezekiel’s calling. To exemplify the level of Israel’s rebellion, he had to lie on his side for 390 days, eating tasteless bread cooked over human dung. After Ezekiel’s pleading, God relented and allowed it to be cooked over cow dung.
Ezekiel would go on prophesying against the rebellion of Israel and Judah. He saw a lot of the fallout from their disobedience during exile. It’s difficult to know if he witnessed any triumphant moments during his ministry. Ezekiel didn’t get his ride on the shoulders of others.
The hardest part of obedience is the possibility we won’t be around for the actual win. But the win doesn’t come without those willing to accept that. Approximately 53,000 Allied servicemen died in the air above, further inland, and on the shores of France during D-Day, yet history records how ultimate victory wouldn’t have happened without their sacrifice. Facing odds that many of them knew also included certain death, they didn’t quit.
Seeing something through doesn’t have to include stakes that high, of course. By this time of the year many goals established in January have been forgotten. Life got in the way and we got busy.
Often the giant we face is of our own making. It’s created by our not committing to the vision far in the distance, instead falling to the distractions of the immediate. For example: my adding a link in this column led to losing about five minutes of deadline time to YouTube over Karate Kid clips. Distraction is sneaky, and costly.
When we quit, it’s likely we became distracted at some point from our goal. We allowed other discussions to get in the way of what we first wanted to achieve. For me, that requires a reset and study of why I let that happen. Then, it calls for another commitment to get back on the right track.
Maybe there’s a sense of immediate satisfaction, but the phrase itself doesn’t make sense to me. Real satisfaction includes seeing something through and the faith that God will use it for His glory. It’s a belief that no matter how long the road may seem, the reward certainly justifies the effort.
Scott Barkley serves as editor of The Christian Index.