It’s been hard, oh, I know that.

It’s been humbling and it has felt like nothing is working and it’s all uphill and you’re wondering why you even bother. It has felt like two steps-forward-one-step-back. It has reminded you over and over again that you are not in charge because if you were, you would surely run the universe better than this. It has swept aside your evangelical hero complex. It has disabused you of your idealism, leaving you a path only through reality. There is more grief than you thought you could bear. It’s messier than you thought it would be. It has proven more complex than you could have imagined. It has hurt like hell. And it has felt futile and ineffective.

People talk about “Victory!” but sometimes it takes all of our energy to just keep not quitting. 

Oh, there are days of hope, too.

There are days of excellence and abundance. There are moments of brilliance and flashes of renewal.

There are times when you get a glimpse – just a glimpse – of the abundant life you believe in so deeply. You are daring to stand between what is and what will be and what longs to be, you know this.

There are times when right in the middle of the hard and the impossible you find yourself thinking, “I’ve never felt more alive and I’ve never been happier than right now.”

There are moments when you feel the needle moving, when you feel the arch of the universe actually bending towards justice and love and shalom.

There are days when you feel like you’re in the right lane and you feel a whole cloud of witnesses cheering for the race you are running.

But other days….well, the heavens are rather silent and you feel like you are plodding along in a dirt track without an end game.

We know we’re more than conquerors. We should be strong and courageous. We know that we will reap a mighty harvest if we faint not. We know that with God all things are possible.

Those grand words can feel far away from our lived reality sometimes.

And then the greatest act of faith I have in my arsenal is my stubbornness.

Keep not quitting. 

Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep showing up. Keep praying, keep standing, keep working.

Even if there are days like today, days when you feel like the only success was that you didn’t quit, then you are still there – I call that a victory of its own.

You are working the muscles of perseverance and selflessness, of service and dogged hopefulness. You are a sticker. You’re not someone who shows up when it’s easy and leaves when it’s time to dig in. You are committed to seeing mountains move. You are not undone by powers and principalities. You are choosing life.

You are declaring in a defiant act of faith that there is no futility, not to God’s economy where nothing – not even our failures and our discouragement and our disillusionment – is wasted..

Victory doesn’t always look how we thought it would: sometimes the victory is the seed that falls to the ground and dies for new life to be born. Some rewards only come after faithfulness. An old preacher used to say, “Without battles, there is no victory.”

This is not the end. Keep not quitting for today at least.

Cultivate joy and rest and renewal as an act of resistance.

Don’t underestimate faithfulness – or stubbornness. 

Small acts of faith are still acts of faith.

Keep not quitting: holding fast in the face of the storms and the silence and the sorrow is its own sort of victory.

What sort of parent is God? :: On discipline, parenting, and discipleship
What I'm Into :: Summer 2017
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  • Rebecca Marchbanks

    I can’t even say how much this encourages me.

  • Bethany Laurel Elisabeth Smith

    Thank you for posting this today. It was just what I needed to read. Life is changing in big ways and remaining faithful in the midst of the shift is feeling scary and overwhelming right now.

  • Rachel Richardson

    I totally identify with your statement, “the greatest act of faith I have in my arsenal is my stubbornness.” At times battles have been lost but – as you said – the victory is I didn’t quit!

  • Gosh, I love this.

  • L.J.

    We can stand on our faithfulness or “It is Finished,” but not both. When we rest in His faithfulness, favor is unmerited and our eyes are on Jesus rather than what we do. This may seem inconsequential…but it is actually the difference between embracing what the cross accomplished or worshipping our own sacrifices.

  • Annette Silveira

    Yes. I’m picking up the pieces after an epic fail, and I think the idea of not quitting sounds very good. I am striving to learn from my mistakes, but also to grow and change.

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thanks for this!

  • M.M.

    Just when I thought of quitting, giving up I read this… Thank you for this encouragement.

    M. M.

  • Tiffany Norris

    You have no idea how much I needed this yesterday. Bookmarking it for today and going forward. Thank you!

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  • Shawn

    “leaving you a path only through reality”
    Faith (in a personal God) and (chronic) depression don’t seem to mix well. It is hard to reconcile self-loathing and a loving God, despair and hope, panic and the promise of peace. The faith to move mountains does not serve when you cannot even lift your head; hope can feel like poison and the tenants of faith-practice/spiritual-discipline = just another way to fail. Religion presents itself as an answer, but leaves the desperate cowering before mystery. There is so much sloganeering and deployment of platitude that church feels like the cold capitalism of an advertising campaign, and even in the context of community, there are many who can’t make sense of the instruction manual; pushing them further into a place where the idea that God “will not give you more than you can bear” can only be responded to with sweating blood, vomit and cussing…
    And then deep calls to deep and the spirit responds with an intake of breath: a shooting star, a child’s laugh, a magnificent tree, a thoughtful kindness, a gentle touch, a wild beauty emerging from the fog. And this thought shimmers and is sent out into that glimpse of infinity to somewhere, something: “that was awesome.” I hope the gratitude is heard.
    I am a failure at faith but I find grace in the unknowing.

    • Lisa Pettersen

      What a beautiful response to this. I went searching for help this morning in a moment of despair, and I needed to read your reply. Thank you.
      You are a magnificent writer.

  • Bren

    I’m a persevere-er. I am a give-it-all er. I’m a don’t give up er. Could we start a discussion on when it might be a good time to end something. When the thing you are persevering with is not a good thing to keep going. There are some situations, some ministries that aren’t doing things how Jesus would do them. They have become a system, a machine, a just keep doing… As someone who perseveres, who doesn’t give up, the answer is to just keep doing more, keep praying more, keep trying more and God will work things out for His good. What I’d like to see talked about is when the tables should be turned over and you walk away. Sounds harsh. Jesus did it. I hear a lot of sermons about don’t give up. Read a lot of blogs about don’t give up. They are truth and they are good to hear. Seeing what I am seeing and feeling in my faith community around me, I think we need some conversation on the hard task of stopping, resting, changing course , and especially that God will not be disappointed (that He might even be prompting it) if we give up something we shouldn’t be doing.

    • Lisa Rutland

      I think if we are constantly asking God to guide and direct us, to help us, He shows us when it’s time to stop or to lay something down. That’s my experience.

  • I so appreciate this. Faithfulness is hard, gritty, and challenging. The temptation to walk away starts subtly in the imagination and then grows fiercely. Yet faithfulness just fits. It’s the right place to live. It’s the place to keep walking until Jesus gently turns you to walk another way – that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other walk that sometimes overlooks mountaintops and sometimes takes you thru briar patches. Thank you for writing faithfully and encouraging us faithfully. Your words reached deep in my heart :-).

  • The parallel between faithfulness and stubbornness – love it. And it’s true. And I so need this because I just started blogging 🙂

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