Don’t Give Up!

How often do we give up?  We were on fire about something, sure that God had given us a mission, and then down the road, we are wondering if we even understood God to begin with.  We doubt.  We fear.  We feel like we have failed.

Believe me, this is something I struggle with almost daily.  I know what you’re thinking!  Daily?! God gives you missions daily?!

Well, sort of.  You see, I believe that God told me to write.  I received a very clear calling about it.  I spent time praying about it, comparing it to Scripture, talking with close confidants, and made the decision to move forward.

It was great, but as time wore on, Satan attacked.  I didn’t see it that way though.  I experienced stress, fear, and doubt.  Would people read it?  What if people read it?  What would they think?  Why didn’t I have _____ number of likes?  What if people thought I was stupid?  On and on and on…

Then I had some people who did think I was stupid.  They attacked me, my faith, and the choices I had made (which weren’t bad, just not what they thought I should do).

Before long, I had decided that this isn’t what God really wanted me to do. I needed to focus on my family, repair some marriage issues, get myself together… but what I realize now is that the devil was working on me.   You see, Satan attacks quickly.  If you are doing something God wants you to do, Satan is not about to let that go down easily.  Even Jesus was attacked by Satan, right after being baptized.  Satan attacks us when we are weak; Jesus was tempted after he fasted for 40 days (not while he was physically strong).  He even attacks through people close to us who shouldn’t be attacking; Jesus actually called Peter “Satan” when Peter was being a stumbling block.

And Satan attacked me in all those ways.  He prowled around like a lion, finding my weaknesses and preying on them.

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

I threw in the towel on my writing.  I excused it away and those excuses were legitimate.  But we all know, if God calls you to do something, you need to do it.  He will make all the rest fall into place. Look to the many Bible figures who were given tasks by God as proof of this:  Moses couldn’t speak- he got Aaron, Noah didn’t know how to build a boat – he got directions (and some help with collecting animals!), Elijah needed proof to show the people wrong – he got fire out of the sky, the apostles needed to spread the word – they got the Holy Spirit, and the list goes on!

Thankfully, God threw that towel back at me.  Several times, I might add!  I finally got the picture (and the courage) to do it again.  I owe this renewal to the people who surrounded me during our time in Chicago.  After the spiritual battles I had gone through prior to that, I needed God’s restoration and for people to pour into me.  They did that.

Then I went back and looked at my notes to myself when I originally started writing.  Reading over those, I saw how convicted I was of my writing.  I saw all the reasons I started.  And I felt God prodding me again.

Now that I am writing again, it is happening again. People are saying things, I worry about how things will be received, I fear what people will think of me, I fear failing, I struggle with work/life balance, and much more.  And I feel it every day.  If you are a perfectionist, or extremely type A (I am both), then you know what I am talking about.

But you know what is different this time?  I make my focus on God.  Before I cave in to these feelings, I pray and read scripture.  I evaluate if I have strayed from what God asked me to do.  I remember that if God gave me the task, then I am the one to do it.  And if I fail, it is ok.  I just need to pray, re-evaluate, and move forward.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7

The best part?  Almost everyday, God is sending me little assurances.  I just had to open my eyes to see them.  It’s a comment from someone in Sunday School, appreciating my comments.  It’s a new person being interested in my book.  It’s an email asking for help on an issue I have advocated for.  It’s an increase in the people following my social media or sharing my stuff.  And the more pressure I feel, the more God sends me the reassurances.

You see, when we look to God for the affirmation, and not to people, we start to build the confidence we need to see his mission through.  We are able to see life things in spiritual ways.  The fear I feel, the doubt… it’s not of God.  The failure, it’s not a big deal.  It might hurt, but God doesn’t think any less of me because of it.  He is still proud of me for trying.  He comforts the hurt, heals it, then sets me to my task again.

Being a Christian is messy.  It’s dirty. God knows our frustration, he knows the fear and doubt, he just wants you to not throw in the towel.  Rely on him.  Look to him, not the world.  And when you feel like throwing in that towel, take a breath and see if you just need to wipe your face.  After all, God is working on you too!

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5

Are you wondering if you need to throw in the towel?  Were you so certain God told you to do something, but now you’re wondering if he really did?  Take some time to answer these questions and then pray.  Don’t pray with a million questions, pray to listen.  Tell God how you feel then listen for him.

1) When you first started this endeavor, how did you feel?

2) Were you certain, at that time, that God had given you a task?  If so, spend time evaluating this.  This could be an indicator that you are being attacked by Satan, or that God had given you a vision for a task in the future.

3) What specifically did you think God had asked you to do?

4) Have you thrown in the towel already?  If so, why?  Were those things legitimate reasons, or were they excuses?

5) If you haven’t thrown in the towel, but are considering it, what are your reasons?  Have you prayed about these reasons?

6) Sometimes, God gives us a vision, but the vision is for the future.  Do you need to take a pause and re-engage later?  Maybe when there is more support, or when things in your life are not so chaotic?

Take time to pray to God.  Talk about these things with him.  Decide, with him, if this is a trial you need to persevere through, a lesson you need to learn, or a task for a later time.  These aren’t easy things to work through.  Your answer may not come overnight.  It may take time to see the signals God is giving you.

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