I’ve been on the brink of quitting following Christ several times.
The majority of those times have been the result of realizing how terrible I am at being obedient. Maybe I committed a particular sin that makes me feel like human feces. I think, “Well, wouldn’t it just be easier to quit? Wouldn’t it just be easier to ditch the whole thing and do my own thing? Sure wouldn’t feel so guilty all the time.”
The despair was rising, the depression setting in strong. I felt empty, gone, done. What’s the point anymore? If everything is just going to end up this way, where I’m frustrated about my proficiency at following Jesus, why keep going?
There are times I still feel this way. But I want to share with you something I learned, something that keeps me going.
It’s not about your “proficiency” at following Jesus. It’s simply following Him at all that is obedience.
Let me explain with a video game analogy.
I don’t play a lot of one-person shooter video games, but in the ones I’ve played, there’s usually some kind of quest or mission. You usually know how to get to the next step of the mission by an arrow or some kind of directional method that points you where to go next.
Let’s take the first game of this kind that I ever owned – Halo 3:ODST. Actually a pretty boss single-player mode for someone who’s not a video game geek. You start by landing on a planet looking for some missing teammates. How you progress through the levels is simply by killing aliens and reaching the next objective.
One of the beauties of these games it that there’s no set way you have to get through the levels. Obviously you have to achieve all the objectives, but you can die as many times as you must to achieve the mission. Each time you die, you get to start again.
Following Jesus is a lot like that.
Say you’re on a mission to overcome a certain sin. You enter the “level” – facing temptation. You fight it off for a little bit, but then you “die” – succumb to the temptation. In video games, you get a second chance, third chance, fourth chance, etc. In following Jesus, you get the same.
If you lie or cheat or boast or get drunk or commit sexual sin or whatever, following Christ means you get to get up and try again, just like Master Chief or Samus Aran or whatever video game hero you love the most.
Proverbs 24:16 says, “the righteous falls seven times and rises again.” Righteousness doesn’t show itself by perfection, but by rebounding from the fall. Every single time you stumble, Christian, you have the opportunity to get back up and you’re still loved by God. You can get back in the battle.
That’s why I encourage you here, in the final post of this series, to never give up in your walk with Jesus. God is on your side! He has given you the tools – His Holy Spirit, the Bible, brothers and sisters in Christ around you – to bounce back with strength. You won’t always bounce back well. I sure don’t. But you have the ability and power to bounce back.
So in this final post of the series (written about three weeks after the last post), I want to make one last encouragement to you. It’s something I’ve been trying to remember in my own life, something I need to grow in, something I need maturation in. So I’m right there with you.
Don’t give up. Please don’t give up. It’s not worth it.
Don’t ever give up.