“Therefore, my brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”
(1 Corinthians 15:58).
Today is piano lesson day in my house. I stopped giving lessons to other students when my youngest daughter was born, but I still teach my older girls once a week. At times, this may seem like a raw deal to my daughters, having a teacher there not just for lessons, but for practice time, as well. They might not fully appreciate me hovering over their shoulders and correcting their mistakes all week. I change their hand positions when they shift their fingers too far. I show them the right notes when they stray to a wrong key. I remind them of the OTHER song they were supposed to practice this week, not just the song they really like.
In many ways, me being their mom and their teacher has been helpful, not just because I make sure they practice the songs the right way all week long, but also because I’m there to encourage them each day to keep going and not give up.
In the beginning, my oldest daughter asked me to quit about once a week. Any time she got a new song that was just a little bit harder than the last one, she thought it was a good time to give up. One minute, she would be super excited about mastering her old lesson, playing it 20 times so I can hear how great she is, and then I’d turn the page to a new song. Some new notes. A new hand position. A new skill. And she’d be discouraged and a little afraid. She’d tell me that what she had learned was enough , that she was a great piano player because of how well she could play “Old MacDonald,” so there was clearly no need to play “Aura Lee.”
But, I’m her teacher and mom and I know better. I know the new song isn’t too hard and that if she just gave it one good practice session, she’d regain confidence. Within a week she’d have mastered it and be ready for something new. So, I tell her, “Don’t give up. Keep trying. You can do it. The best things in life take hard work and the effort is worth it.”
Today, I feel like giving up. I’ve looked around at where I’m at and how hard it is, and I’ve thought, “I’ve gone far enough. I’ve exerted enough effort. It’s just too costly and time-consuming and emotionally draining and I think I need to stop. Take a vacation. Escape. Quit and do something easier. Settle for something less. Did you really call me to this? Did I hear correctly or am I just off doing my own thing? I just can’t do this anymore, God. I’m not seeing any results, blessing or reward, so this just doesn’t seem worth it.”
Have you been there?
Have you changed your 13th diaper for a morning and thought, “I’m over this. I’m done. Nine months old sounds like a perfectly reasonable time to potty train.”
Have you listened to yet another fight between your kids and wanted to scream and just shut the door and hide until your husband comes home?
Have you washed every dish and bit of clothing in your house only to find the sink and hampers filled by the evening and just been totally overwhelmed by the endlessness of it all?
Have you given everything you had in ministry only to see little tangible result and watched as someone else seemed to reap success with little effort, so you just want to pack it in?
Have you worked hard to get out of debt or saved to put money aside, only to face a totally unexpected bill or rising gas prices that cut into your budget, and find that you’re never any closer to your goals no matter how hard you work or cut expenses? And you think, “What’s the point. Why am I trying so hard?”
But, God’s our Teacher and our Father and He knows better.
He knows that sometimes we grow tired and weary and that in those moments, it’s hard to remember the vision He gave us or the call He placed on our hearts. He knows we just want to escape sometimes and curl up in His lap for comfort and rest, but He encourages our hearts by telling us, “Don’t give up. Don’t run away now, not when you’re so close to the reward. It is worth it; it is all worth it. Just take another step, go a little further.”
Today, I’ve felt a little like John the Baptist just before the end of his life. This man had boldly proclaimed the coming Messiah, publicly baptized Jesus and personally witnessed the Holy Spirit descending like a dove with God’s voice from heaven proclaiming, “This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased. It may seem like if anyone in Scripture had the assurance of his calling and confidence in his ministry, it was John.
Yet, when John was in prison, he sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask, “‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2, NIV).
As he sat in that prison, preparing for death, John must have begun to wonder, “Was it worth it? Did I put everything on the line for the truth or for a lie? Should I just give up? Did I hear wrong from God? Should I have stayed in the desert and never stood before a crowd to preach at all? Was this guy even the Messiah or has this all been for nothing?”
So, Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5, NIV). Jesus didn’t just send back a message of platitudes and inspirational quotes. He gave John concrete evidence and specific reminders that God was at work and that it was all true and worth it. Just like I tell my daughter at the piano, “Remember when you couldn’t play this song? Now you can. Remember when playing with hands together was hard? Now it’s easy.” I give her tangible signs of progress and success.
God gives us encouragement for those days when we question our call and think giving up sounds a whole lot better than persevering.
- “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV).
- “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7, NIV).
- “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).
These Scriptures remind me that it’s worth it, all the effort and sacrifice and heartache and time. There’s a reward and blessing at the end of this as long as I don’t give up. But, I can’t stop here. I have to keep going, step after step after step. Even though I can’t see the end result, I can trust that to God. All I can see is now and in this moment, I choose to obey.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King