I have seen it all lately. Marriages falling apart. People spitting the dummy and walking away from their responsibilities. Friends considering whether they really have what it takes. Colleagues who have low self-esteem. Parents trying to hold their families together. Relationships on the brink of disaster.
Maybe you have seen it too? Co-workers who give up too easy. People who have ‘had it’ with their partners. Youth who are on a tight lease, because they are making poor decisions. Some of us are under so much pressure, we feel we’re about to crumble.
I’m no counsellor but I’m sure that God never intended us to quit so easily.
You know you shouldn’t quit
If we are honest, we know we shouldn’t quit. We know deep down that we must soldier on, but that doesn’t change the reality around us. The mud gets flung and it sticks to our heart and soul. We become resentful, prideful, angry and despondent and we just prefer to quit.
Partners get restraining orders out. Christians are crying out in prayer for breakthrough. Dreams are not always becoming reality. You look in the mirror and you don’t see the person you hope to become.
We get disappointed when reality doesn’t meet our expectations. We think God should have produced a particular outcome, different to what we’re seeing or experiencing.
Whatever your story, I feel like God is wanting you to hear one particular word. And I credit a mate of mine, Andrew Ross, who spoke this to me recently:
Just keep fishing.
Yes, that’s the word on the street. You don’t cast your rod into the sea and give up as soon as it comes back void. You cast the rod back out. You just keep fishing. When you wind up the rod and find seaweed, you rip it off and try again. Thirty minutes later when you find an old shoe attached, you do the same thing again. Clear the hook of all the debris and cast the rod back into the ocean!
This is a critical metaphor to wrap your head around. We try to fix a problem in our life, and when we reel it back in to have a look, at times we still see the issue staring us in the face. Guess what? Start again. Try again. Give it another shot. Cast the rod back out!
Just keep fishing.
We owe it to the people around us to not quit. We owe it to the God who called us to make a difference in the world. We owe it to ourselves.
A culture of immediacy
Our propensity to quit is no doubt spurred on by a culture of immediacy. As I write this today, the Federal Coalition are voting on whether they should keep Malcolm Turnbull as their Prime Minister.
‘Let’s grab a different fishing rod!’
‘Let’s quit on him!’
Look around and you’ll see this ‘get, get, get’ culture, that sparks a ‘quit, quit, quit’ culture.
Don’t like a new restaurant, you go find another one (don’t care to think about the livelihood of the new owners).
Don’t like the church, you go find another one (don’t care that the people might need you around to help them).
Don’t like the new boss, you go find another one (don’t care to consider where God may want you to be).
Don’t like a person’s opinion of you, you run away from the relationship (don’t care of the consequences of broken connections).
The culture of immediacy means that as soon as you don’t get what you want, when you want it, you move on. You make changes and you make choices to suit your own selfish desires.
I think the Kingdom of God is different to that.
I think we are called to stick it out in hard places. I think we are meant to persevere with difficult relationships. I think we are called to pray for our leaders, rather than quit on them. I think leaders need to take wake up, take a deep breath and keep ploughing the dry ground. I think we need to embrace the challenges ahead of us, and keep fishing, irrespective of the perceived success or not of our circumstances.
As the Bible says in Galatians chapter six, verse nine, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’
So, here’s what I want you to do. If you’re reading this and you feel like you could quit, then take a hold of the fishing rod, muster up all the perseverance and tenacity you can find, and cast that rod back into the sea.
Our world is better off if you don’t quit.
Pete Brookshaw is the Senior Minister of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of both Business and Theology and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith and you can find him on:
Peter Brookshaw’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/peter-brookshaw.html