Discouraged and Doubting? Stay on!!
If you’ve ever been discouraged – I’m sure you have and you will again – maybe what I’m learning will encourage you. Notice I said, “what I’m learning” not “what I’ve learned.” Life is a mystery; somewhat like a roller-coaster or one of those scary rides that shut you down a tunnel and you get all wet and start screaming and stuff like that. You look forward to the thrill, you anticipate the adrenaline rush, but it sucks when you throw up at the end! It’s kinda like wetting your pants on one of those really long and steep declines that sneak up on you and before you know it, it’s warm for a minute or two, but it quickly gets to be just cold and embarrassing. Don’t like the reality of the metaphor? Sorry. Reality is weird, isn’t it? So, anyway, if you want to know what I’m learning about this roller-coaster mystery ride, read on.  If you want the short version, here it is: Get up and stay on to the end!
If you’ve ever thought you made a wrong decision, or felt like giving up, calling it quits, going into the pits and staying there, let me share some encouragement. Those days will come for us all. I’ve had many such times, especially these past two years – transition in our church, my family and everything that goes along with those two huge and important realities. I pray that it will be strategically helpful in your times of doubt and defeat. 
First, tough people take on tough jobs, yet many tough people still fail in their attempts. The thing that sets some tough people apart from other tough people is their tenacity and endurance. A few people determine that their worst enemy is the enemy within that threatens to pull the plug on a great endeavor because it becomes almost unbearable. So, look down the road at the worst case scenario and you’ll see that for the person in God’s hands the worst case is not so bad at all. In this sense, awareness is the beginning of achievement.
Next, realize what some real important and smart guy said in one of his columns just recently (I have to say that, because it’s not my line -- I’m just learning it like you!) that in life, the “why” always determines the “how long.” If you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’ll never stick with it. So here’s the deal: the reason always determines the motivation. It is absolutely vital that you remember the reason behind the choice to do whatever it is you’re doing. Remember that your mission comes from God, as does the power to fulfill that mission. God never asks us to do what He will not empower us to do. He never asks us to attempt something He won’t give us the energy, the brains, the brawn, and the courage to accomplish. 
Lastly, remember that you will be rewarded some day. To win any contest you will have to deny yourself many things that keep you from accomplishing your purpose. That’s rarely fun, and never easy in the beginning, but that’s how people win. That’s how tough people endure – by denying themselves some of the things they could have and do, for a greater reward some day. Tough people don’t build their lives around just the “here and now.” They live for a greater reward in eternity -- when God looks them in the eye and says, “Well done, now look what I’ve got for you.”  So, weary traveler (right next to me!) when discouragement comes – and it will – look it right in the face and say, “I will focus on my purpose and not my problems!” (Warren) God has called you to this path. He will help you complete it. And, though there may be many rewards along the way in this life, the best is yet to come for those who finish well.
When you’re running the hundred-meter sprint, and you miss the first hurdle, you have two choices: you can either start cussing like your ancestors and focus on the track and the hurdle that just knee-capped you, OR you can re-focus on the finish line and get your skinny-white-one up and running again! Because, different than a track and field event, life is about finishing, not about all the temporary trophies you’ll soon throw away, attained from all the temporary little achievements you experienced from mere “life under the son.” The key to finishing well is to simply refuse to give up. Get up and stay on to the end!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Discouraged and Doubting?