I recently spoke to a young man. He was struggling. He told me he felt like he was always letting God down; that no matter what he did, he couldn’t turn his life around. He wanted to give up, maybe even resume some old bad habits. (Really bad ones.)
I told him no. Giving up was not an option.
In fact, staying the course is EXACTLY what our faith is all about. It’s not about being perfect; that’s God’s job. It’s about staying in the game; finishing the race; enduring to the end.
“but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matt. 24:13, NIV
“if we endure, we will also reign with him…” 2 Tim. 2:12
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Tim. 4:7
“You have persevered and have endured hardships…and have not grown weary.” Rev. 2:3
I wonder how many Christians still hold onto the idea (if even subconsciously), that they have to “toe the line” or not sin in order to stay under God’s grace, keep Him happy, or ask for His help. They forget it’s not possible. Yes, we obviously want to do our best and act as Christ would – a true Christ follower would want to honor Him that way. But in the end, we will still fail.
Maybe that’s why, after Jesus died and before He ascended into heaven, He challenged the disciples on one thing and one thing only:
“He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!…’” (Luke 24:38, NIV)
The disciples hadn’t believed Jesus. That’s what He scolded them for. He didn’t get mad that they had all abandoned Him; He didn’t rebuke Peter for denying Him three times. But He did point out they had not believed Him.
Do you believe God? Not in Him, but Him, period? Do you believe that even if you fail you can pray bold prayers and ask for His divine help? Do you believe that He’s covered every sin – past, present, and future – and that all you have to do is believe Him and stay the course? Try again? Stay in the game?
I think that’s real faith: keeping on keeping on. No matter what.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about how good God is – that I can trade in my junk for His righteousness, over and over and over again – it makes me want to serve Him and do right all the more. And I find myself wanting to stay in the game – even if for just one more day.