Quitting Too Soon?

We’ve all done it at some point. Given up on something just short of a breakthrough. Is there something difficult, but good and big in your life that you are considering walking away from?

My Pastor made a point in his Resurrection Sunday sermon last weekend that stood out to me. The story was from Luke chapter 24 about Cleopus walking back home on the road to Emmaus. He walked with another, and their heads were hung low in defeat. They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but Jesus had died on a cross Friday night, and they were headed back home early on Sunday.

Jesus actually caught up to them and asked them what they were talking about. They told Jesus, whom they did not recognize, that they had seen Jesus die and they were disappointed that he was gone and that all they had believed was not true. HA! Their messiah and their hope was right there beside them, but they didn’t even recognize him!

Jesus had told them all that he would die and that he would resurrect, numerous times. Cleopus still gave up and started walking back home to his old familiar place TOO SOON! Shouldn’t he have waited around on Sunday to see Jesus resurrected as he had promised?

Cleopus gave up just short of the breakthrough and headed back to his comfort zone! Thankfully for him, Jesus pursued him on his wrong path anyway! He ALMOST MISSED the most important moment that could have ever happened to him!

Whatever you are doing in life that is worth doing and biblical – whether it be a challenging job, building and staying with a relationship, getting in shape, eating healthier – that you feel like giving up on because you are not “seeing results,” STICK WITH IT! KEEP GOING! You have been promised the results, and they will come if you keep on. They say 80% of the progress comes in the last 20% of the time spent on a project. Push forward and don’t turn back to your comfort zone and quit! As Dory would say in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming!”

DON’T QUIT TOO SOON OR YOU WILL MISS YOUR BREAKTHROUGH!

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JUST START

Seems simple enough. So why do most of us have such a hard time doing it?

There are so many factors that go in to starting something new. Many times we have to make preparations for a new project. I know I have a list of “things” I want to do, but I fumble around and keep saying, “I’ll get to that.” All the while, I stay in my rut and keep spinning my wheels, wondering what it will be like “one day” when I finally get to this or that.

Last week I had to let go of my hot tub. I had it for almost 13 years and loved it! However, the money I needed to put into it did not equal it’s worth. I had it removed and looked forward to a fresh beginning.

It was nearly 100 degrees outside and once I saw the mess left behind I didn’t really fell like dealing with it. I knew that the outcome would be worth the effort, but I just figured I could get to it the next day, or the next.

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Instead of settling for this, I decided to take the first step, which was to shovel the rotted wood and debris from the concrete slab.

Once that was gone I figured I would go ahead and get out my pressure washer to clean the area a bit.

Of course once I started that and the cleaned area looked so much brighter than the rest, I had to continue and finish the job. When I saw the contrast between the dirt and the clean, I HAD to press on.

IMG_5603And guess what? Since I just started and took the project one step at a time it wasn’t so daunting. Once I got started I got excited about it and ended up with a fresh beginning for that area of my property.

IMG_5606That’s all it’s about – just taking that first step. Once I grabbed the handle of that shovel I had done the hardest part of the task. Once we start and get momentum we can continue to press forward.

I realize this is a simple example, but the visual is good and it makes a greater point that can spill over into all areas of our lives.

What is that “thing” that you really want to accomplish that you keep putting off?

JUST START. Take the first step. Then the next.

Before you know it you will have that project complete, or at least be well on your way to creating that new space, or writing that book, or learning to paint….whatever that “thing” is.

May we all run with endurance in our lives spiritually, emotionally and physically. May we press on and not grow weary in doing good or in improving ourselves and the lives of those we care about!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Run the Race…..

The Olympic Games have always fascinated me to the point that I work my daily schedule around watching the athletes compete on TV!

It is amazing to me, a non-athletic person, to see to what extent the human body can be pushed to excel. The twists and turns, the landings, the strength, the determination of the athletes is honorable.

Sometimes the one expected to do well, or break an Olympic record, doesn’t get a medal at all.

There are heartbreaking stories, and happy ending stories.

You know, it’s just the same for the spiritual race we are in. Sometimes we reach the pinnacle of faith and miracles happen. Other times we fall down and become so bruised it takes times to heal.

We are just human after all!

God knows our weakness and strength, and gives us encouragement from His Word to not give up.

Maybe, if we’re too damaged by life’s falls, we need a friend to pick us up and help us along while we’re limping.

Be encouraged today if you’re in the limping stage of this life’s race to not give up. Sometimes healing takes time, and you need the time to heal from the inside out. Band-aids only cover up the real, deep need.

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Remember to ask for help as you are getting stronger. Next time you will be the stronger one to pick up another runner!!!

Together we will make it to the goal. We will finish the race and receive the prize!

What a day that will be!!!

I Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
(also read Hebrews 12)

Follow Through and Follow Up

I started playing basketball on a team in the 3rd grade when I was 8 years old.  From the beginning, coaches teach that when you shoot the ball, you must follow through. Great shooters always follow through. Those who struggle with the follow through are not consistent and never become great shooters. If you watch basketball, you will notice shooters fixing their eyes on the target to watch the ball into the hoop, and that their wrist remains “broken” after the ball leaves the hand until the ball fills that net.

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Part of a good follow through is to follow the shot. Your momentum is already moving toward the basket when you shoot and follow through, so you just keep moving toward the basket. This way, if you miss, you have a much better chance of getting the rebound for a second attempt, rather than another player.

This concept is important in our everyday lives.

To be good at your job, you must follow through.

To be good at relationships, you must follow through.

To become a better person every day, you must follow through.

Without following through, your rate of success lessens in every area of life. Without following up, you miss the chance to use your momentum to rebound a miss and try again. Some people work hard to get the shot and then someone else gets the rebound and puts the shot in, reaping the reward of the first shooter’s effort.

We will all fail to hit the shot sometimes. Misses are inevitable. But, success comes by consistency and perseverance, especially when we fail.

My challenge to all of us spiritually, physically and emotionally is not to shrink back when we shoot for a goal. We must, must, must go all in, get a good shot, follow through and then follow up if a rebound is necessary.

Be bold! Be brave! Stare fear in the face and go for it! A missed shot does not equal failure! Only giving up does. So, never give up!

YOU GOT THIS!

James 1:4 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

One Brick At A Time

Several years ago my Pastor* mentioned something in one of his sermons that resonated with me and initiated a process in my way of thinking that continues to mold me. Here I will take the point he made and expound on it.

When a mason builds a brick wall, he starts at the ground and builds up. He cannot start at the top and work down – for obvious reasons.

Also, he has a strategy. He does not lay a brick here or there and hope the wall comes together in the end. He must lay one brick at a time, end to end. He does not use mortar on some and not others. He uses it with each one. The bricks must also stagger in order for the wall to be strong.

If you have ever played with Legos, you know this from experience. If you build rows of bricks, one lined up exactly on top of the other, you essentially end up with a lot of columns of bricks that are not connected and therefore have no stability or structural integrity. You must stagger them to make a sound structure.

In addition to the essential pattern of laying brick that builds strength, you will also note that a wall isn’t built up all at once. The lower layers must have time for the mortar to harden. If you build too quickly before the mortar hardens, the weight of the wall will make it unstable and it can easily fall. The slightest bump of the wall will bring it down.

These rules seem simple when we apply them to brick laying. However, somehow we tend to get ahead of ourselves and even God’s plan for us in life when we build too rapidly without careful placement and a sound structure. In our modern fast-paced society we tend to lack patience. We tend to want things immediately and at our fingertips as quickly as possible. We have forgotten to be deliberate, methodical, pensive and patient as we build our character, our business, our faith. When we suffer trials, we anxiously hope to get through them quickly rather than focusing on how they deepen our character and resolve.

James 1:2-4 says, “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.”

My friend Kris noted how much this illustration resonated with me. When she came to visit me one day following that sermon, she brought me a bright red brick and a box of chalk. She knows how I struggle with over-thinking and stressing, and getting ahead of myself. Her brilliant idea was that I should write one thing on that brick to concentrate on at a time.

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I still have that brick, and I am working my way through that box of chalk. ONE BRICK AT A TIME. Build your life, your faith, your relationships, your business… without taking shortcuts…. and with methodical integrity and perseverance. It may take longer to reach your goals, but your foundation, character, and success will be solid and sustainable.

*Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC elevationchurch.org