To All Those Who Just Want to Quit

I returned from my mission to Guam the other day full of energy, ideas, and the faith to make them happen.

Within a day, I had lost it all and just wanted to quit. Fear grabbed me by the hair, gripped me firmly in a headlock, and proceeded to pummel my confidence with repeated blows. Within hours, I was a bloody and faithless mess. Finally, when fear had finished for the day, it dumped me and left my future as good as dead and buried.

It was all I could do to clutch the side of the bed, scoop the remnants of my hope off the floor, and stagger into tomorrow. Not pretty, I know. Especially not for someone committed to helping others walk with abundant faith. But there it is.

One thought kept me moving forward. The only thing worse than the fear of trying and failing is the fear of what would happen to me the day I stopped trying. The thought of what I would become if I did nothing. If I settled. If I just quit.

Yes. Resistance Is a Bully.

While in Guam, I finally took the time to do a slow read of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. So much of it resonated with me. Pressfield speaks of that unseen force — he calls it Resistance – that pushes back on our every attempt to move forward toward becoming who we were created to be. Pressfield speaks of that Resistance in a generally theistic, though not distinctly Christian, way. But I would take it one Biblical step further.

Is it a Sin to Quit?

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13)

On the the best features of my trips to Guam with Equip Leadership is the opportunity to reconnect with friends who are fellow FaithWalkers — people who have truly stepped out by faith to answer God’s call on their lives. Big calls. Our conversations stimulated my thoughts on the verse above and led me to a simple yet stunning conclusion:

The most common temptation known to man is the temptation to quit. [ Tweet this! ]

The word used in the New Testament for sin is transliterated hamartia. It literally means to “miss the mark,” or, as Paul puts it, “to fall short of the glory of God.”

Now, the reason we all fall short of becoming who were were originally created to be is a simple one — we are all fallen from that original created state and now lack the capacity in and of ourselves to fulfill it. When we fell, we became eternal quitters, incapable of overcoming the Resistance. Worse, we had no desire to do so. Not really. And certainly not for the right reason.

But, and here is what we Christ-followers fail so often to realize, redemption changes everything. In Christ, we become new creations. Old things? Gone. All things new. We become overcomers by faith in the One who loved us and gave himself for us. Resistance to doing what we were created to do — let’s just call it sin — no longer has any hold over us.

Unless we let it.

Toward a FaithWalkers Manifesto

For some time now, I’ve been pondering writing a manifesto on what it means to be a FaithWalker. The problem is I’m often just not angry enough.

Manifestos are angry things. They bubble up from some place deep within our souls. They rise up with a furious passion to push back against oppression. They cry out for revolution. They come from that part of us that refuses to be squashed yet again beneath yet another filthy heal by whatever alias Resistance may be traveling under at the time. That part that refuses to remain lifeless on the bloodied floor. That part that insists on clawing our way back to our feet and staggering forward even in the face of great uncertainty.

It’s not that I never get angry enough to write it. I am now, in fact. I’ve had it with quitting.

It’s just that the truth about Resistance is disturbing:

The greatest Resistance I encounter to being the person God created and redeemed me to be comes from my most pernicious and, yes, vicious enemy — me.

David cries out to God for deliverance from his enemies:

I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. (Ps. 3:6-7)

But what about when the one pummeling my own dreams into oblivion is none other than my own faithless, fearful, self-destructive self? What then? Should I pray for God to break my own teeth? I’m already doing a pretty good job of that myself, thanks.

It’s at times like this, on days like today when I actually listen to all of my own lies, that it takes every ounce of faith I can find to cry out with Paul:

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24)

Make no mistake. Walking by faith is war. And war is hell. [ Tweet this! ]

It Helps to Know Who Wins.

“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” (Rev. 2:17)

Biblical imagery aside (I’m not much into manna myself), unspeakable rewards come to those who overcome, to those who simply endure. [ See my post: The Secret to Living by Faith] So to those who refuse to be beaten down yet again;  to those who are angry enough at the Resistance, sin, and themselves to just keep walking;  to those who just want to quit — hear the conclusion Paul shares to his own frustration:

“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25)

A Healthy Sense of Self-loathing

All these thoughts lead me to this conclusion: we should desire a curious mix of self-confidence based on the work of Christ within us and a healthy self-loathing that moves us to die daily to all that crap we tell ourselves about why we should just quit.

I don’t intend this to be a warm, fuzzy post, adjusted to fit the usual Evangelical screen dimensions. I’m angry. With myself. With my lack of faith. With the Resistance. And for once, I think that’s a good thing.

But I might just be nuts. As a follower of Christ, have you ever felt frustrated at your own daily failure to walk by faith? What does “falling short of the glory of God” look like in your own life? Share. Believe. Walk. Together.

 

About Bill Blankschaen

Bill Blankschaen is a writer, author, and communicator who empowers people to live a story worth telling. As the founder of FaithWalkers, he equips Christians to think, live, and lead with abundant faith.

His next book entitled Live a Story Worth Telling: A FaithWalker's Guide is scheduled for release in May 2015 from Abingdon Press. His writing has been featured with Michael Hyatt, Ron Edmondson, Skip Prichard, Jeff Goins, Blueprint for Life, Catalyst Leaders, Faith Village, and many others who shall remain nameless.

Bill is a blessed husband and the father of six children with an extensive background in education and organizational leadership. He serves as VP of Content & Operations for Polymath Innovations in partnership with Patheos Labs. He is the Junior Scholar of Cultural Theology and Director of Development for the Center for Cultural Leadership. He works with a variety of ministries including Equip Leadership (founded by John C. Maxwell) when he's not visiting his second home -- Walt Disney World.

  • Jennifer

    Hi Bill,
    I have found that dark times of doubt, fear and resistance are – if I can manage it – the best time to see what underlying beliefs I hold that are screaming “danger! avoid! run!” to a brain system that probably hasn’t evolved much (sorry to use the “e” word) since the time of sabre tooth tigers. These times almost invariably fall either during times of personal crisis due to life events OR during times that I am contemplating major change – even if I am excited for the change and should be feeling great instead of miserable. I find it helps to ask questions such as, “what is the downside of this change?”, “how will my life change for the better with this change?”, “how will my lifestyle be altered by this change”, is there anyone who might be upset by this change?”, “Who is going to be impacted by this change and how will they feel about it?”, “how will MY life change?”… You get the idea. A some point I usually come across an answer that points to a belief I am holding that clashes with my new dreams. This belief might be one I want to hold on to or one that I should have outgrown (or not accepted in the first place!) and need to change. Either way, I find it easier to deal with when I have some clarity. I picture that clarity as a kind of light that helps me to dispel the dark/false places within me and that helps me on my path to becoming the person God meant me to be.

    Recently I’ve been battling my own feelings of wanting to surrender. In the past few weeks as a family we’ve been through the wars both physically (flu, pneumonia, ear infections, eye infections, food poisoning, and on and on) and emotionally (Aunt with cancer diagnosis, friend with cancer diagnosis and my son going through a very dark time). I’ve found myself very whiny – which I loath – and completely bared to the reality of my own shortcomings. I found myself leaning my forehead against the window this morning and muttering “Thank God for God”, which struck me as a bit funny. I am so glad I’m not allowed to quit as a Mom because I’ve found strength I wouldn’t otherwise have known if quitting was an option.

    Sending prayers,
    Jen

    • http://FaithWalkersBlog.com Bill Blankschaen

      You just had to go there didn’t you — the whole e-word thing! It’s interesting that the thought of change can brings us both to a place of excitement and terror. And I think you are on to something with the place of humility in the face of challenges. It is a humbling act to persist in the face of what we know we can not do alone — and act of faith.

      Among Christians, I find that we expect resistance when dealing with challenges that fit neatly into “spiritual” categories, but seem surprised by it when they don’t. But if the doctrines of the Fall of man and redemption are accurate, then we should expect all of existence — even that part between our own two ears — to resist our efforts to pursue good in whatever direction that may be.

      We’ll pray for each other. How’s that?

      • Jennifer

        Sounds good!

        One thing I’ve been bumping up against over and over again in the last few years is my fear of being in a position of needing help. I like to be in control at all times. It gives me such a lovely (though false) illusion of strength and safety. You are dead on accurate that it is humbling to find we can’t do it alone. I’m currently thinking of this humbling process as cracks developing in a protective wall I’ve built around my heart. I’m hoping that my life and faith will be expanded when the walls fall down :)

        • http://FaithWalkersBlog.com Bill Blankschaen

          Don’t get me started on control. Ironically, I believe that the only way we find control is to let it go.

  • Preston S.

    Fear is violent….
    good to see you back from Guam and writing posts again! I just wanted to say something real quick because I really connected with what you said. One thing that I have learned through my particular struggles is that as a person, a Christian, and to some degree I would say as a guy, when sin and fear and “resistence” has us lower than we thought we could go a hundred times ago, the righteous wrath toward tthe former forces that arises within us is often aimed correctly, but poorly equiped. We get up again and start throwing punches, often forgeting that the God of the universe could be dong that for you. We think, “with the help of God, -I- can do this.” But you cannot beat the devil at his own game; only Jesus can do that. what it should be is, “through me, -God- will defeat my sin and fear and weariness”
    Thanks for the encouragement again!

    • http://FaithWalkersBlog.com Bill Blankschaen

      Hey, Preston! Thanks for your own authentic comment. What a terrific point about our need to pause and recognize that “it is God who works in us.” But I’m not even all that sure most Christians even identify Resistance. In other words, most of us aren’t even aiming correctly.

      What did you mean by your opening comment that fear is violent?

  • Preston S.

    nothing ;D
    -”Fear grabbed me by the hair, gripped me firmly in a headlock, and proceeded to pummel my confidence with repeated blows. Within hours, I was a bloody and faithless mess. Finally, when fear had finished for the day, it dumped me and left my future as good as dead and buried.”

  • http://unbelievinghearts.com Bill Brownlee

    You are right on. It is our lack of faith that makes this so difficult. But I am right there with you man – I am sick of compromising. Like Casting Crowns said in their song Somewhere in the Middle, “Deep water faith in the shallow end.” I am sick of splashing around in the pool patting each other on the back and cheering over mediocrity. Let’s be the ones who overcome in faith instead of compromising in fear. Press forward!

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