I regretted ever starting in the first place.
It hadn’t been the plan for the day, wasn’t on my agenda, and didn’t appear on my to-do list.
But as I swept through my house doing my morning cleaning, I reached into my son’s closet to put something away and recoiled in horror.
This closet was at capacity.
More like over-capacity.
So I began the task. I was “just” going to clear out a few things, “just” get rid of the boxes, “just” pull out the baby toys to donate, “just” put some clothes into storage, “just, just just….”
Until, of course that “just” meant the entire surface of the bedroom was covered with stuff from the now-empty closet.
This task sabotaged my entire morning, muscling everything else I intended to do that day out of the way.
At some point, I almost gave up. I almost shoved it all back into the closet and shut the door because I did not have time or energy or patience or anything to tackle this project right then.
And so there was the choice….
Push through? Persevere? Take one more step and then another?
Or give up? Step backwards? Regress?
This is the same for us.
Once we choose to step out, we have to then choose whether to keep going.
Obeying God, following Him in faith, answering His call, choosing righteousness, putting down bad habits and picking up spiritual disciplines: These are not one-time decisions.
There is the choosing….and then there is the choosing again and again and again.
I decide today to follow Jesus. And I decide all over again tomorrow.
Giving up, of course, feels easier in the moment, but then my son wouldn’t have a clean closet and I’d feel the waste of starting a project and never finishing it.
Abraham chose to obey God no matter what. When God called him in the night to journey up a mountain and sacrifice his promised son, Isaac, Abraham went.
I’ve always marveled at Abraham’s immediate act of obedience.
He didn’t waiver or question, pray over it for a while or seek counsel from others.
No, God called and “Abraham rose early in the morning….” and started on the path to obedience.
But here’s what I never noticed before:
On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance (Genesis 22:3-4 NASB).
Abraham walked three days before he even saw the mountain God had called him to.
That meant he had three nights to wrestle with the task, three days to decide whether to keep moving forward or turn around and head back home.
He had three days to chicken out.
In his book, Drawing Near, John Bevere says:
“Why a three-day journey? I believe He gave Abraham time to think it over, even to turn back. It is one thing to initially move when you hear the voice of God, but what about the follow-through?” (p. 79 ).
That’s what faith-journeys take.
Obedience doesn’t mean anything if it’s only partial obedience, or halfway obedience, or “I’ve changed my mind and I’d rather give up now” obedience.
And this matters for us because some days obedience comes easy.
The call from God feels fresh and exciting.
Our friends encourage us.
The sermon reaffirms us.
Our quiet time feels vibrant and alive.
We see the evidence of tangible success and real impact.
But that’s not everyday.
Some days we wonder if we ever even heard God calls us.
Our friends are absent, unsupportive, or unaware. Maybe we even face detractors who discourage us and assure us of defeat.
God seems silent.
Nothing appears to make any difference and we are so small, so insignificant. Failure feels imminent.
We are weary and weak and we can’t even see the blurry outline of the mountain anywhere in the distance.
It’s hard to keep moving forward when we’re overlooked, when we question our offering, when we lose hope for the future, when the mess we’re in threatens to bury us.
Maybe today is the day you feel eager to obey. Or maybe today you feel overwhelmed and ready to quit.
Today might be the first day of your journey, or the third, or the twenty-third, or the one-hundred-and-third.
Regardless, today is the day to choose as Abraham did: We choose to follow through. We choose to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 ESV).
No turning back.
No turning back.
Originally published October 2016