In the course of one's life, certain things provide a source of inspiration and motivation. A long time ago, I was introduced to a poem that has helped me get through difficult situations countless times. The author is unknown, but the poem is fairly well known. It is called; "Don't Quit" and I would like to share it with you:
When things go wrong, as they sometimes do
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high
and you want to smile, but you have to sigh
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never know how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when thing go wrong that you must NOT quit.
A common misconception among new believers is that once born again, there are no more problems in life. Unless this error is confronted with the truth, many people fall away and quit because they don't want to and don't know how to deal with tribulation, pressure and temptation. It is very important for believers to understand that, as the song said; "God never promised us a rose garden". In Hebrews 12:1 it says:
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses (the great examples of faith in chapter 11), let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"
If one is going to win a race, especially a marathon; you have to get rid of as much excess baggage as possible. The more weight one carries, the slower one runs and sooner one quits. Indeed, to travel far and fast, one has to travel light. In 2 Timothy 2:3 and 4 it says:
"Thou therefore endure hardness (hardships), as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
We are soldiers in the Lord's army. We are exhorted to endure hardships, not belly-ache and complain all the time about them. As the drill sergeant would say, "Suck it up soldier". Jesus Christ needs men and women who have the will to withstand pressure and not cave in every time the enemy starts firing mortar rounds at us. Jesus Christ needs soldiers who are so committed to His cause that they "count it all joy to suffer for his sake." Jesus Christ needs first class soldiers who are willing, able and happy to endure hardships if it furthers the Gospel.
Verse 4 is better translated as follows, from the Amplified Bible:
"No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him."
The NASB translates this verse as follows:
"No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier."
Jesus Christ is the one who enlisted us to serve in His army. He was the recruiter, but He was also the drill sergeant and He is the Commanding Officer. Our aim and desire should be to please Him in all matters. We cannot please Him if we "break ranks" and go get entangled in the civilian affairs of this life. A soldier cannot stay focused on the war if they are in town selling real estate or living it up at the corner tavern.
Back in Hebrews 12:1 in addition to laying aside the weight, it said we are to lay aside "the sin which does so easily beset us." Again, I think this phrase could best be understood looking at the Amplified Bible:
"...let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us..."
In reality, it is the sin in our lives that clings to us and entangles us as a huge spider web. There are two types of sins; there are sins of "omission" which are not doing what we should be doing and sins of "commission" which are doing what we should not be doing. The enemy has only two basic tactics to get us to sin; he either uses pressure to get us to NOT do what the Word tells us TO DO, or he uses pleasure to distract us and get us TO DO what we know the Word tells us NOT to do. Either way, if he succeeds, we end up in sin and it is the sin in our lives that entangles us and prohibits us from being a good soldier.
We are lay aside or throw off everything that could weigh us down or cause us to get entangled in sin. I remember for many years having a yearly "magazine and book burning" day. It is incredible how much useless and distracting junk accumulates in our homes in a year. We are daily bombarded with so much "junk mail" that it is hard to remember to throw it all away. We are given things to read by well-meaning people that might be beneficial for a moment, but should be thrown out. The older we all get, the more we turn into "pack rats" with boxes upon boxes of "stuff" we didn't want to throw out "just in case" we want to look at it again some time.
"Stuff" ends up distracting and weighing us down in time, both physically and spiritually. To run with patience and endurance the race set before us; we MUST cast off, throw away and lay aside EVERYTHING that hinders, distracts and entangles us. If we don't, we will inevitably become either so weighed down with the matters of life or entangled in sin that we fail to finish the race or become a causality of war.
Hebrews 12:1b through verse 3 sums up the point of this discussion:
"and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
The reason for getting rid of the weight and entangling sin in our lives is so that we can run with patience the race set before us. The word patience means endurance, active persistence or perseverance. The only way to win a marathon is to "hang in there" though all those grueling miles. When we are weighed down and entangled with sin, we just want to quit. When we are freed from the weight of distraction and the spider web of sin; we are willing to keep going no matter how hard it gets.
We must look away from all that distracts and fix our eyes upon Jesus. He is the Leader, Author, Perfecter and Source of our faith. He is the one who knows what it takes to finish the race, for he did. Jesus was able to endure the sufferings leading up to and including the cross because of the "joy that was set before him". That joy was the promise of the resurrection God had shown him. He knew God would raise him after three days, so that gave him what he needed to finish the race of our redemption.
The only way we can run and win this race. The only way we can be a good soldier and endure hardships. The only way we can now grow weary, lose heart and QUIT; is to fix our eyes on Jesus and consider him and all he went through for our redemption. If we look inwardly at ourselves, we will fail. If we look around us we will get distracted and fail. If we look at the problems instead of the solutions, we will fail. If we take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on the world, we will fail.
The only way to be able to not quit this race is to have the absolute resolve in our hearts that because of everything Jesus Christ endured on our behalf, we are not going to let him down. To have the absolute commitment in our hearts to be the very best soldier in His army by NOT getting distracted and entangled in the affairs of this life. To do everything possible to purge our homes, our minds and our hearts of worldly influences that weigh us down and seek to lure us away from the truth.
I pray we all "take a check up from the neck up" and honestly look at our lives and evaluate all we have, do and want in light of the Word of God and the calling we have set before us. I pray we can be "big enough" to cast off the excess weight, the unnecessary things that only distract and entangle us in sin. I pray we can muster the intestinal fortitude to "suck it up soldier" and endure the hardships any soldier must endure when in battle.
I pray we keep our eyes firmly fixed upon our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray we love our Lord enough to give him our heart, soul and mind in selfless service. I pay we understand the race is long and hard and to make it up the hills we must "gut it out" and refuse to quit. That when we get to go down the hill we rejoice in the time to regain our strength so as to be ready for the next hill.
Finally, dearly beloved, I pray that no matter how dark the days get, no matter how bad the storms blow, no matter how strong the temptation to give into the lure of pleasure becomes; we never quit. Don't quit, no matter what. Don't give in, no matter how hard. Keep your eyes on Him and He will give you the strength, to remain faithful in service and in the end---win. God bless you all.