When You Feel Like Quitting…Posted: May 10, 2011
“Steve’s wife’s run off again.”
I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, its just that the old men were talking so loudly over their McDonald’s breakfast that I couldn’t help but hear.
And I thought of another conversation I overhead a few months back. “Did you hear they are divorced now? No wonder, with her being stuck at home with those five kids and all…”
I think of the array of pressures that makes us feel we’re going to implode if we don’t get. out. now.
So we quit our husbands, we quit our kids, we quit relationships, we quit God. Oh, we don’t have to leave to quit either, do we? We can be right there in the middle of it and still be quitters.
There’s another conversation I’ve been privy to. It has changed everything for me. It’s the conversation between a quitter and God. And this woman really did have it bad.
She was a slave and when her owners decided that she was useful for getting what they wanted the most… a child…they used her to get it. Then, after she got pregnant, there was a lot of jealousy and strife so as low hen in the pecking order she was mistreated and abused.
She felt so helpless and alone that she up and left. Ran off. Like Steve’s wife.
She found herself in the middle of a desert. Destitute and pregnant. But she wasn’t alone and she wasn’t without hope.
God met her at her lowest moment and revealed Himself to her so powerfully….so powerfully…that she returned to the couple who had abused her and submitted herself to them.
That’s some kind of God, is all I’ve gotta say.
And in preparing for the upcoming journey I’m taking the kids through this summer on the character of God (join us?), I’ve come across this same El Roi, the One who meets quitters and gives them what it takes to keep going.
All weekend I’ve been asking, “El Roi, reveal to me the secrets of Your name. Open my eyes to understand what about You brings such transformation.”
Has He ever answered… and my world forever tilted and the quitter in me drawn up on strengthened legs and the eyes opened to see the glory and purpose in it all.
I’m convinced that understanding El Roi, the God who sees, gives us the capacity to joyfully and willingly endure the hardships in our lives.
And as El Roi granted deep awe in understanding, as He led me to study this concept of submission, this command given specifically by the God who sees what we are going through and how it is going to turn out, He divinely sent something across my path.
“Teaching a horse to give to pressure is day 1 in colt breaking.” A horse trainer was demonstrating a skill all horses must learn in order to truly become great.
“But not all horses are trained properly in this and they get to be five, ten year old horses and they still will not bend, will not flex. They argue, they won’t give their face; they’re like a belligerent child who hasn’t learned day 1 lessons. It is very hard to build on a horse who hasn’t learned step 1.”
And God is telling me why I can’t quit, why I can’t run. He’s letting me understand why He applies pressure. It is to lay a foundation on which He can build.
“Step 1 is to give, bend, flex, and turn a little bit when directed with the reigns. If he resists, you don’t let up. You must soften him up by keeping the pressure on him.”
And I understand why the pressure’s been kept on me, going on four years now of constant, unrelenting pressure. This mare’s got a rebellious streak. Yet her Trainer is unwilling to give up on her, and His name is also Faithful.
“When a horse has a problem and wants to argue and resist, you don’t go get a bigger bit. You don’t go pull harder. You don’t get mad and fight. You don’t go get the club. You say, “Day 1, bud. Learn to bend. I’m going to pull on your little mouth until you learn to bend and give, and when you do that, I will turn you loose.””
“This looks boring, but you will find trainers who train colts will do this by the hours. Skilled, winning trainers will do this first thing every day…they will test that horse to see if he remembers lesson 1.”
And I understand the humble, patient, nurturing nature of our great God.
“You can do this a long time with a horse. He’s not getting tired, mad, or hurt. We are not terrorizing him in any way. We are working on his mind more than his body.”
And I understand why El Roi told Hagar, a woman who up and quit her circumstances, “Go back and submit.”
Pressure retrains our mind to keep in step with our Almighty, Loving God, who bends and writes in the dust and takes all the time in the world with us because there is not limit to His commitment to us and He knows the power of His unfailing love towards us.
He is committed to making us more than conquerors.
Abuse and abandonment teach us to run and buck and self preserve. But He takes us in hand and commits to building trust. He doesn’t give up or let go. And slowly, He retrains us, guiding us away from those self-destructive patterns.
Pressure teaches submission and submission prepares us for true greatness.
We come to Him wild, an un-cultivated olive, a bucking and kicking mare that wants to run solo. We want to do life unhindered and unattached. But God takes us on and He’s the Master Trainer and He’s a good plan. Oh it’s good! He knows that true greatness is power under control.
Gentleness is the fruit of affliction.
So He applies the pressure and He tells us to trust Him. Submit. Lower your head, bend, flex. Give to the pressure. Again. And again.
Until it is our new nature, us working in sync with our Gentle Savior, trusting Him without even thinking anymore.
Because we have learned that He lays foundation for a winner, not a quitter, and we’re the winner and this is lesson 1.
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and faithful in all He does.” Psalm 145:17