Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Heart of a Quitter (Part 1)

We have heard the stories of people who quit.

Missionaries who left the field...

     Pastors who left the pulpit...

          Church members who quit church...

               People who turned their back on God completely...

                    Children who went astray...

And with each new story, we take a deep breath. It breaks our hearts. Even more heartbreaking is when it isn't just a story you heard, but when it hits close to home... your friend, your pastor, your family member. When it is people you never expected to give up or give in, it reminds you of your own vulnerability, too.

Such is the case I recently found myself facing.

"If they could quit... what about me?"

(Encouragement from afar)

It's a tough question as a believer, and a tough question as a missionary. I don't ever want to find myself in a situation where quitting seems like a valid option. God closing the door? Fine. God calling us a different direction? Ok, I can live with that. But not quitting.

I think it is a fear every missionary has at some point or other. So how do we defend against this enemy?

This week I just poured my heart out before God, and I asked Him to show me what it takes to be a quitter... I opened His Word, and the answers were there.

The Heart of a Quitter

John 6:64  But there are some of you that believe not.

For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were

that believed not, and who should betray him. 
John 6:66  From that time many of his disciples went back,
and walked no more with him. 

Jesus was teaching on spiritual things, yet some of the people who were following Jesus were struggling to understand. They had hearts of unbelief, so they could only think of the physical/fleshly things. Jesus was teaching that He was the Bread of Life, and all they could think of was literally eating Him. It made no sense! And this confusion led to frustration which led to them turning away. What was the cause? Unbelief. Jesus wasn't teaching difficult things. That wasn't the problem. He made it very simple for the spiritually minded.

1 Corinthians 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not

the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:

neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

After a while, these people who are following in the strength of the flesh turn away and quit. They "cannot be taught anything they don't already know." They were interested at one time, but the Bible and church just has nothing for them. Judas was even among this crowd, though He continued to follow Jesus. He followed as long as it was beneficial to him, but he never believed. And when Judas turned away it probably left the other disciples in shock. They never suspected him. When Jesus said one of them would betray Him, no one pointed fingers at Judas. He walked among them day after day, and played the part well. And yet... unbelief.

1. The heart of a quitter has unbelief.

Missionary ladies... never be afraid to examine yourself even about your own salvation. One of my favorite testimonies in the whole world is of a missionary friend of mine who served a term on the field, came home on furlough, and realized through the preaching of God's Word that she had never been truly saved. She didn't let the pressure of "what will supporting churches think?" stop her! She was gloriously saved and serves faithfully beside her husband in the Philippines!

But even after salvation, a heart of unbelief can cripple us and cause us to quit.

Unbelief... Is this truly God's will? Will He really take care of me? Is His Word faithful in every situation? Is God in control? Will He provide? Will He use me?

If we want to protect ourselves from the sin of quitting,
we must root out any... ANY unbelief.


Ruth 1:14-15  And they lifted up their voice, and wept again:
and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people,
and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. 

Orpah started out well. She went with her mother-in-law. She truly loved her. She had an emotional attachment, but lacked true commitment. She was easily talked out of going to Bethlehem.

2. The heart of a quitter is emotionally aroused, but has no depth of commitment.

It is easy to be emotionally stirred. The excitement of going to the field... the adventure! But what happens when the emotions subside? What happens when you start feeling the sacrifices? What happens when the adventures just aren't so fun anymore? We get excited about starting a new church or a new program, but what happens when the newness wears off?

Letting our emotions control us is dangerous. They change with every circumstance. New visitors? YAY! Happy! God definitely called us here! No visitors for weeks? Sad. Discouraged. Are we really called here? God, where are You?

If we want to protect ourselves from the sin of quitting,
we must not allow our emotions to control us,
but be committed no matter the circumstances are.

1 Kings 19:2-4  Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying,
So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life
as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 
And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life,
and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness,
and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for
himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life;
for I am not better than my fathers. 

Elijah was a great man of God. He was used by God to do many miracles. He had even just come from a great victory on Mount Carmel. But one thing sent him running and ready to quit... fear.

The spies sent in to view the Promised Land... Why did they quit? After seeing all that God wanted to bless them with, the refused to go in because they were afraid. They didn't trust God. They saw their opposition. They saw the obstacles. And they were gripped by fear.

3. The heart of a quitter is gripped by fear.

Many of the fields we serve on have great dangers. Persecution, health hazards, physical war, spiritual warfare... There is a temptation to give into the fear. There is a temptation to let that fear push us to quit.

Psalm 118:6  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? 
If we want to protect ourselves from the sin of quitting,
we must not allow fear to control our decisions.


1 Kings 19:5-8  And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold,
then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals,
and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again
And the angel of the LORD came again the second time,
and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. 
And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat
forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. 

Something else that is apparent about Elijah from this passage... He was exhausted! He desperately needed rest and food. He needed to be ministered to by the Lord. He slept, was awakened, ate, and turned right around and slept again! Elijah was physically and spiritually at the end of himself.

4. The heart of a quitter neglects a period of physical rest, getting alone with God away from ministry.

Ladies, please do not neglect taking a break. I know there is some pressure out there that missionaries shouldn't take vacations, but if you don't, you will burn out. You will find yourself being less effective... and maybe (dare I say it) a little irritable or bitter. If you have the mentality of "I'd rather burn out for Jesus..." you will! We aren't in this thing for a quick blaze of glory. We are in this thing for the long haul.

If we want to protect ourselves from the sin of quitting,
we must not neglect a period of coming apart from ministry
to be ministered to by the Lord in rest.


To be continued...

by Charity, Southern Asia


Joyful said...

Excellent post for missionaries and non-missionaries alike. God bless you for your faithful service and insightful posts.

Lou Ann Keiser said...

Oh yes, all so true. And, like you said, instead of pointing fingers at those who quit, we need to take heed lest we fall. There are those days . . . . Good stuff, Charity! We appreciate your ministry and your words.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing a Bible study with my teen girls about faith, and came to a realization when reading Eph. 6 on the armor of says ABOVE ALL having the shield of faith, to quench ALL the fiery darts of the wicked. God stresses faith's importance, and how it's our belief that wards off evil's attacks.

Amy Meyers said...

#3 and 4: fear and rest--two things I also recently wrote about. Isn't it neat how God works on people about the same things at the same time sometimes? Looking forward to part 2. If you keep writing so well, the rest of us won't have to write anything! ;)