Monday, March 07, 2011

Don't Just Give Up. Throw In the Towel!

There are times in my life when I just want to give up. Maybe the struggle is too much. Maybe I have lost too many times. Maybe I am experiencing the consequences of a fallen world and my sinful actions. Whatever the case, I just want to give up.

I think Micah, one of Israel’s prophets, knew that feeling very well. Micah was overwhelmed with sorrow, sunk in a swamp of despair because everyone he knew was out for blood. They were like animals preying on each other. He couldn’t trust anybody and the world around him was falling to pieces because the consequences of the sins of his nation were finally landing.

He wasn’t going to give up though! I hear that all of the time. “Don’t give up! Don’t give up! When times are hard don’t give up!” What does that mean though? What does it mean to not give up?

We normally think the opposite of giving up is fighting but the truth is that not giving up and fighting in my own strength are two totally different responses. For Micah, giving up meant trusting that God could do for him what he could not do for himself. We face an enemy that is cunning, baffling, and powerful. Without help it is too much for us.

This reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Rocky IV. Apollo was up against an opponent that was too much for him but he didn’t want to admit defeat. He didn’t want to throw in the towel and he died in battle. He didn’t realize that there was one who could defeat his enemy and he needed to throw in the towel, step aside, and watch the enemy get defeated.

I cannot beat the enemy of my addiction. I must throw in the towel, but only to move out of the way and let God fight. As some people say, “we surrender to win.” This is one of the many paradoxes of recovery.

If I fight in my own strength I am actually giving up on believing that God is greater than me and I am giving up on the assurance that he can and will fight for me. In fact God has already fought for me, the victory has already been won, and amazingly we get credited for that victory if we belong to Christ!

Micah waited for God because he knew that God was listening and he knew that God was making things right (restoring sanity), something he knew he couldn’t do in his own power. This is the essence of the second step.

Prayer for today:
Lord, today may I not give up on you and fight my battles in my own strength but may I throw in the towel and let you work in and through me to fulfill your good purpose.

Donald Miller A Million Miles In A Thousand Years

This is one of those few books I bought as soon as it came out. I was really excited about the release of this book somewhat in the way I have been excited about the release of many albums. My excitement was fueled by the fact that Miller was coming to Birmingham, AL on a book tour shortly after the book was released. I, like many, fell in love with Miller's writing style in Blue Like Jazz. My church, Tapestry of Hope, had a men's Bible study group that read Blue Like Jazz and discussed it chapter by chapter in Jackson's Bar and Bistro. One assistant manager, Jessica, asked, what is this, a Bible study? Do you know you are in a bar? We thought that was awesome that she said that! But, she started asking questions about Blue Like Jazz and we got her a copy of the audio book and she came up to us a few weeks later telling us about her favorite chapter in the book! In fact, almost every server in the place had a copy of Blue Like Jazz because if they asked us what we were reading we asked them if they wanted a copy and almost all of them wanted one and came back to us telling us how much they liked it. So, here is DM again, offering some great insights into life, based off a movie that is being made about Blue Like Jazz. This book has some great points and it is in great Donald Miller style. Get it, read it, and most importantly, pray over it and discuss it with friends...maybe in a bar over a half price beer (which all low gravity beers are at Jackson's on Tuesday nights). Here is a promo trailer about DM's new book...

What story are you telling? from Rhetorik Creative on Vimeo.