Six Things: When You Feel Like Quitting

It’s that thing your heart beats for. It’s part of you; something you’re wired to do. It’s your high calling, your pebble throwing mission.

Perhaps it’s freeing girls from human trafficking. Maybe it’s rescuing endangered animals. Or caring for foster children, or the environment, or helping frazzled moms love their families well.

As you’ve pursued your mission, have you ever felt like quitting?

I have.

(If you haven’t, feel free to save this for a rainy day. There may come a time when you wonder if you heard God wrong or if what you’re doing is making a lick of difference.)

For the rest of us, here are six things when you’re having one of those days:

1. “Just” pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Why do we say this? I’ve said it. “Is there anything else I can do besides just pray for you?” The truth is, if we all “just prayed” instead of spinning our wheels trying to do stuff, the world would be a dramatically different place. If your bent is toward “doing” rather than “being,” remember this: the next time you go to take action (send an e-mail, plant a tree, write a chapter, begin a recycling campaign, sign up for a mission trip, organize a fund raiser or whatever) take a breath. Ask God to use your efforts, edit your words, multiply your work, or stop you if it’s not the way He’d have you go.1thessalonians5-17

2. Every time you say yes to the wrong thing you’re saying no to the right thing.

When you commit to something that’s not part of your highest calling, it diminishes your ability to complete your highest calling. Whenever possible, each yes should propel you toward your mission. Do you feel ineffective in what you’re doing? Pause to evaluate your yeses. Give yourself permission to say no in order to free up time to pursue your Best Yes, as Lysa Terkeurst calls it. Jesus did this. He said yes to only those things that aligned with His highest calling.

3. Spend time with those who embrace your highest calling.

Not everyone will completely get your mission. But seek out friends on social media and in your school, neighborhood, and community who do. Seek out others whose hearts beat for what you’re doing to help spur you on. And most importantly, spend time with the Author of your highest calling, getting quiet with God, reading His word, and just being with Him. Psalm 63:1

4. Recruit others to pray specifically for this calling with you. Acts 12:12

Every other Tuesday morning, I circle up with four women. These friends are on my write-the-book journey for the long haul. They were praying for my book long before I traveled to Africa or began blogging. When I tire of updating them on my progress (or lack thereof), they still pray for me. Thanks to them and others, I’ve not given up on this book.

5. Expect things will get messy and don’t give up when they do. Galatians 6:9

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You will have “those days” when you hit a wall and are D-O-N-E, done! Michael Hyatt calls it the messy middle.“Everything is harder than you expect it to be. The hill is steeper. The road is longer. You are not sure you have what it takes to finish.”

Preparing for this season helps you push through instead of being devastated and giving up. Consider writing a “messy middle” letter to yourself on a day when you have a fresh vision of your mission. When you hit your wall, read it out loud and allow God to reignite your passion for His calling.

6. Remember who got you into this. Ephesians 2:10

onewhohovers

This photos reminds me of three things:

  1. The author of my calling is God. I didn’t think it up myself. I responded to His holy invitation.
  2. The One who called me has unlimited power and resources. All I must do is ask.
  3. Ultimately, my Heavenly Father is the only one I need to please.

On the dark days when you feel like you’re a crazy person for thinking you could do what you’ve set out to do, # 6 is everything. And when number 6 is even hard to do, repeat #1.

What has God called you to do? Have you experienced the messy middle? When everything screams “give up!” what has helped you stay the course?

Why God Detests Fancy-Pants Prayers

In the foreword to Jon Bloom’s book Things Not Seen, Ann Voskamp shares a story about a man who labors long and hard weaving baskets. It takes him years to cut trees, plane lumber, sand, refine the reeds, and weave a mountain of baskets. As he weaves each one, he prays. When he’s finished, he takes a match to them. They turn to ash. Years of work vanish in an instant leaving the weaver with nothing to show. Nothing in the seen world, that is. Because his real work wasn’t in the seen world of weaving but the in the unseen world of praying.

basket weaver

photo credit: Chris RubberDragon

Never underestimate the ripple effects of the hidden work of prayer.

Oswald Chambers says “prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.”

I will be blogging about “the greater work” of prayer for the next few weeks. It’s a practice near and dear to my heart and perhaps the most powerful method of throwing pebbles to impact change.

“I strongly suspect,” says Dr. Peter Kreeft,“that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers to God make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those effects down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.”

pebbles in sky

You probably know that the ripple effects of our prayers have little to do with the eloquence of our words. Even though we know this, we… okay, I sometimes fall into this trap. Prayers peppered with holy words and phrases like “for your glory” and “empowering” and “sanctification” are no more powerful than simple, honest prayers.

And yet, many would rather go to the dentist than pray out loud. Excuses abound:

“I can’t pray. I’m not good at it.”

“Other people’s prayers just roll off their tongue. But not mine.”

“I can never think of the right words.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

I’ve prayed in groups, classes, on streets, at conferences, over meals, and in church services with the most seasoned of prayer warriors and some true giants in prayer. Through these experiences, I’ve come to believe that God’s heart sings when He hears a fumbling prayer. That prayer is a sacrifice. It’s an “I-can’t-lead-your-people because-I-have-sp-sp-sp-speech-impediment” kind of prayer.

If you can’t stand to pray out loud for fear of:

screwing it up,

or pausing too long,

or forgetting what you wanted to say,

this post is for you. Moses gets you. And so does God.

God loves your prayers because those who offer reluctant prayers with knees knocking need Him. They aren’t self sufficient. They are God sufficient.

man prayingBut don’t just take my word for it. Listen to what Jesus said about a self-righteous man who prayed fancy-pants prayers. The Pharisee’s prayer exalted his own “righteous” acts—what he was doing for God. But Jesus praised another man for his prayers, a tax collector, who begged to God out of his desperation. The tax collector needed God. The Pharisee, not so much. Jesus also warned his disciples not to pray for the sake of being heard or seen by others.

People like Janine remind me of how Jesus wants us to pray. She is not an eloquent, “I’ve-got-this” kind of prayer warrior. But Janine’s prayers touch my heart more than most seasoned pray–ers. When she prays, she simply talks to God about her needs and concerns, for herself and for others. Janine’s raw, honest prayers move my heart because I believe they deeply touch God’s heart.

woman prayingIt’s sweet music to God’s ears when we allow our desperation for God’s intervention to win out over our need to be certain or comfortable. It’s not about the prayer. It’s about the coming. And being with Him. He already knows what we’re going to say. He doesn’t need our prayers. God doesn’t need anything. But He desires for us to come. He chooses to weave our prayers into His divine and perfect plan so we recognize that our prayers have purpose. And so we will keep coming back and persevering in prayer. John Piper even says God wants us to “badger Him in prayer.”

So come. Throw a pebble. Say an awkward prayer. Badger God. And take courage in knowing that He delights in choosing to involve you and every fumbling, bumbling word in His powerful Kingdom work.