How To Stay The Course

Do you ever look in the mirror and see something you’d rather not see?

I’m learning something about myself that I don’t like very much.

I’m not very committed.

That’s difficult to admit. But it turns out that when the going gets tough, I tend to get going home.

Certainly I knew that about myself when it came to my injury. I gave up and quit in every way imaginable, and it’s only by God’s grace and faithfulness that I’m still moving forward. But I figured that was a pretty extreme circumstance.

However, I’m seeing a disturbing trend. In multiple situations, I throw up my hands in despair when obstacles appear.

I’m in a men’s small group study of Nehemiah. The central characteristic of the story for me is Nehemiah’s ability to stay the course. No matter the obstacle or the nature of the opposition, he remained faithful to the task in front of him.

Nehemiah had an outrageous mission (re-build the walls of Jerusalem) and a hopelessly ambitious plan to accomplish it. But he never wavered, and because of his steady leadership a great project was completed.

I don’t think it’s an accident that I encountered this study as I prepare for my bike ride project. I’ll confess that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I’m tempted almost daily to give up. I want the kind of resolve and faithfulness demonstrated by Nehemiah, and I’m discovering that it’s not easy to find.

How about you?

Am I the only one who wavers in the face of opposition and obstacles? When your vision falters, are you tempted to give up? Do you begin to doubt whether you’re really on the correct path?

In Matthew 4, Jesus was tempted by the enemy. It’s easy to dismiss those temptations as “not quite real” since He was God, but He was also a real flesh-and-blood human. After forty days without food, I’m sure the prospect of turning stones into bread sounded pretty darned inviting.

But He held firm to what He believed to be right, to be God’s will. How do you find that sort of determination in the face of desperate hunger and mortal threats? How do you turn away from the gossip, ignore the false rumors, and remain faithful?

I know the answer…

…which is really the frustrating part. I just don’t know how to do it, or I’m not good at it, or I can’t find the discipline to do it, or whatever.

I need to talk to God. Nehemiah prayed four months before beginning his wall-building project. I’m lucky if I muster the discipline to pray four minutes before my mind wanders.

I’d like to promise that I’ll fix it, that there’ll be no more faltering. That would be a lie.

I believe in this project. I want Nehemiah’s faithfulness, and I’m going to seek it. But until I find that kind of unwavering certainty, I’m going to follow my friend Dick Foth’s advice (via Oswald Chambers):

I’ll trust God and take the next step.

What do you do when distractions and opposition tempt you to abandon your mission?

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