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 ManifestoFor 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.