By Jeremy Stalnecker –
When was the last time that you decided to quit? Has it been a while or was it sometime in the last 30 minutes? In my life I sometimes feel like I can accomplish anything and quitting is not an option. There are other times, and these are more frequent than I would like to admit, the temptation to quit is overwhelming. I find myself in situations that either I have created or that have been created around me think, “If only I could quit, the pain and frustration that I’m feeling right now would go away.” What I’ve found is that quitting is only a relief for a short time before the regret of not pushing forward sets in. But still, we quit.
-Important Life Projects
-Preparing for the future
Truthfully, there are some things that won’t have much impact on you if you quit and others that you would do well to remove from your life. But when it comes to the bigger, more difficult issues in life there can be an incredible impact. The crazy thing is, we all know this! Even when we are making the decision to stop doing things we previously decided are important, we know that we will regret it. Still, the desire to quit becomes overwhelming and we do something that we know will negatively impact our life and the lives of those around us. We want to keep going but the race of life gets too hard, the obstacles become too great, and the challenges seem too strong. At some point, we look back and see the path that we have been walking littered with unmet spiritual goals, unrealized dreams, broken relationships, and wasted potential. While we can’t go back and undo what has already been done, we need to learn how to move forward when we want to give up so that our past failures do not keep us from future success.
One of the most important things for us to understand when the desire to quit becomes overwhelming is why we can’t! I know that this seems a bit simplistic, but when I want to quit I often forget the reasons that I started in the first place. It is as if a cloud begins to shadow my mind and I just can’t come up with a good reason not to quit. I may have made a decision to grow in my relationships or accomplish something of significance but when things get hard, if I don’t know why I must go on, then giving up becomes really easy. So, when you have decided to do something important why should you keep going when all you want to do is quit?
There is a great verse in the Bible found in Hebrews that helps us to put this in perspective: “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,” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV) Not only does this verse tell us to keep going (run the race) but it tells us three reasons why we can’t quit.
1. We can’t quit because of the sacrifices of others.
This verse starts out by saying, “we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…”. If we went back and read chapter 11 of Hebrews, we would read about some amazing people (I encourage you to read through the whole thing). We read about people who overcame incredible obstacles to accomplish what no one would have thought possible. These are heroes of the faith. There is another group of people in this chapter as well. They are simply called the “others”. These people lived by faith and dealt with an incredible personal loss to do what they thought was right. They did not accomplish the amazing things that we learn about earlier in the chapter, but they never gave up. The author of Hebrews is telling his readers that one of the great reasons to keep going is because of those who had come before them. Those who had sacrificed so that they could live the life that they were living.
The truth in this is very simple and yet very direct: Life is not about you or only about what you are dealing with right now. There are people who have gone before you that sacrificed, some even giving up their lives, so that you could do something great with yours. To allow your past to keep you from moving forward or decide that things are just too hard is to say that the sacrifices of others are meaningless. Live and accomplish in such a way that the crowd of witnesses, those who have gone before you, are proud of the life that you are living and would not consider their own sacrifice on your behalf a waste.
2. We can’t quit because the stakes are high.
What is really at stake if you decide to quit on what you once decided was important? If you quit in your walk with God or your relationship with your spouse? If you give up on a dream or decide that being a person of character and integrity is just too hard? The stakes are really high and yet I think we rarely look outside of ourselves when we make the decision to give up. It is not about you; it is about the generations of people that your decision to either press on or give up will impact. Before you quit ask the question and honestly answer, “who will be impacted by my decision to stop doing what I once decided was important?”
3. We can’t quit because this is what we have been uniquely gifted to do.
The author of Hebrews calls life a race. He says that we need to run the race but is very specific about which race. Look at the authors wording; “let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”. This is not just any race, this is our race! You and I have different gifts, opportunities, and abilities. The race set before all of us is a race of faith and trusting in God. How we run that race though, is unique to each of us. You are not supposed to run my race just as I am not supposed to run yours. We all must live in pursuit of God, but He wants that pursuit to be a reflection of how He has uniquely made us. Consider this verse from Ephesians: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”(Ephesians 2:10) He has a specific plan for our lives and to give up on that plan, the race set before each one of us is to live outside of how we were uniquely created. We will never fully be the person we were created to be until we are living in line with that creation. And quitting is deciding to be less than God intended.
The temptation to quit can at times be overwhelming. When those times come, before you give up, take a minute to step back and ask “why”. The answers won’t make the road ahead easier, but they will make it worthwhile. Decide to do something great. Get started. Ignore the voice that tells you it would be easier to quit. Live a life the makes a difference.
By Jeremy Stalnecker, Executive Director of Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs