“Never give up.”
Googling these three words results in over 614,000,000 results, mostly of cute baby animals trying to climb steps and nature/sunset pictures covered with inspirational phrases in poorly chosen fonts. A few workout reminders. Some tattoos.
This is a nice sentiment, right? We want to be inspired, told that what we are working for is worth it, that failing is not truly failing unless we let the failures make us quit. And there are days when I definitely need to hear this; that pushing on, continuing through and taking heart are indeed worth it.
But maybe, just maybe, there are times when Jesus wants us to give up. He’s waiting for us to give up. And all 614,000,000 of those search results would probably glare indignantly at me as I say this, but maybe it’s time. Maybe you should give up.
Give up the notion that you can do this on your own.
Give up thinking that you can earn something from God.
Give up the entitlement to what you want that has trailed behind your hours of ministry.
Give up being self-dependent.
Give up using your time, money and talents your way.
Give up the hopes and things and people that you are fighting with God over.
Are you thinking you just need to try harder? You should give up.
Do you feel the weight of your mistakes, and do they define your worth? You should give up.
Do you fear the unknown, because you fear you will not have the ability to “make it”? You should give up, too.
The sooner we give up trying to live on our own strength, the sooner we discover the sweetness of the gospel that was waiting for us the whole time.
We are playing a failing game when we convince ourselves that we have ability on our own. It is a mirage, a facade, and it will collapse on us one day (if it hasn’t already, or if it isn’t already collapsing each morning).
We play frantic maintenance, trying to contain leaks that come more and more quickly. Our weakness is exposed for a moment, and we scramble to cover it with whatever we can find, only to run to the next hole, the next exposure, to do the same thing.
We play a fruitless game of tag, running around trying to hold onto the precious idols that we line the shelves of our hearts with. Jesus is waiting for us to let them go.
Watchman Nee writes:
“God knows who I am. He knows that from head to foot I am full of sin; He knows that I am weakness incarnate, that I can do nothing. The trouble is that I do not know it. I admit that all men are sinners, and that therefore I am a sinner – but I imagine that I am not such a hopeless sinner as some. God must bring us all to the place where we see that we are utterly weak and helpless. While we say so, we do not wholly believe it, and God has to do something to convince us of the fact…. The sooner we too give up trying, the better; if we monopolize the task, there is no room left for the Holy Spirit. But if we say, “I’ll not do it; I’ll trust Thee to do it for me,” then we shall find that a Power stronger than ourselves is carrying us through.”
It seems that we have taken the encouraging notion of “never give up” and have twisted it and made it into an ultimatum: if you give up, then you have lost and you are weak.
But… yes. We are. I am.
So I will.