- When is a time in life when you wanted to quit? What hardship have you walked through that has depleted you emotionally, mentally and spiritually?
- Have you ever quit something? What happened? Do you have any regrets?
- What have you seen God do once you have surrendered to Him and admitted that you cannot do it alone? How has He shown up in the hard times? What good came from you NOT quitting?
Good Morning, Happy Mother’s Day! My name is Tiffany, my husband Peter and I planted Hope City Church almost 2 1/2 years ago. I have the honor of working here at our church, I oversee Hope City Kids, and if you know my husband at all, you know he’s a dreamer – and well I help make those dreams actually happen – like the details.
These are my kids from this morning- they knew this was a non negotiable. Listen we love pictures here at Hope City – because we believe that pictures are great ways to remember God’s faithfulness in your life. Life is constantly changing. I can rememberwhat it looked like to be a mom when they were this young like it was yesterday. Oh man when I first had kids I didn’t know what life was going to be like.
If you are anything like me when you first have kids, start a new job or even first get married. You think you know how it’s going to be. I mean look at this blank canvas over here. It’s new, all white and shiny. The possibilities are endless. When you are a teenager, young adult you would look at this canvas and dream about what your life would look like. You almost don’t even want to touch it because it’s just so pretty and clean when it’s brand new.
Even as adults we have this beautiful picture in our mind of how life is supposed to be, white shiplap everywhere, white couches and no chaos. As moms we dream our kids are going to be so obedient – no tantrums – they will rise up and call you blessed every morning. Life is going to be all unicorns and rainbows.
I asked Hope City Sisterhood, which is a ministry to the women of our church to send me pictures of what the reality of having kids looks like. And this is what I got.
Look at these are they not the most hilarious and cutest things you ever saw. So much for the perfect canvas over there right – this is reality.
I was just with my parents and I asked my Dad what the funniest thing was I ever did as a kid. His eyes got real wide and he said, “Oh the finger”. I think I was about 9 or 10, that age where you see kids doing things on the bus, but you don’t exactly know what they mean. One night my dad sent me to my room for being disrespectful. Instead of going into my room I stood in the hallway and gave my parents the middle finger with everything I had. I stood there for probably 2 minutes just holding it up in anger. Well what I didn’t know was that there was a back light, and my hand gesture had turned into a gigantic shadow on the wall and my parents could see the whole thing. I jumped out of my skin when my dad turned into the hallway there and started yelling at me for having my hand up.
Thanks to the grace of God, I don’t do that hand gesture anymore. I tell my kids all the time, don’t do anything stupid because you are gonna get caught.
But that’s real life – kids do things they aren’t supposed to do. No matter the plans you have, or the dreams you dream, it doesn’t work out the way you want. Dream jobs quickly become the job of your nightmares. Your marriage doesn’t end up turning out the way you had hoped.
I mean nobody has a kid and thinks they are one day going to give them a gigantic middle finger, no one thinks that one day your kids are going to crawl through the doggy door. No one gets married thinking the other person is going to have an affair. No one starts a job thinking someone is going to manipulate their way to the top.
I asked my parents a second question, I asked them “What was the hardest part of parenting?” You have to understand, my parents not only raised my brother and sister and I. In this picture there are 5 of us, but actually a couple years after this picture, our family grew to 7. My two younger cousins moved in with us when my dad’s sister died suddenly. In an instant, my parents suddenly had 2 – 9yr olds, 2 – 11yr olds, and a very hormonal 14yr old daughter. I couldn’t imagine what my parents were going through at that time, and I wanted to know so badly what they thought was the hardest part of parenting. My mom’s response was, “Not quitting, not tapping out, staying engaged”. I sat there listening to her thinking, that’s so true. How often do we say I want to quit.
You hear people say it all the time. You have no idea, my jobis so hard. Work is so hard, I just want to quit. Or someone in my family said something to me – you wouldn’t believe what they said – I am quitting them. We aren’t going to anymore holidays at their house. Or my marriageis sooo hard, you don’t know but she’s crazy – I am quitting this thing.
As soon as life starts to get hard, there is that temptation to quit.
Right? When we look at the canvas of our life, we all want it to look perfect.
But life is messy. What do we do when life begins to feel like too much? I know what I do I try and cope with the messy things that happening by taking control of my life. We think if I hold the steering wheel or in this case the brush – and I decide what things are going to happen and how I am going to react. I decide that the perfect lines that are going to be painted on my perfect life canvas. If I control and I make these three lines nice and neat – God will see that I am trying and He will respect my perfect lines and my boundaries. That’s how it works right – we think if we are controlling how the picture looks it will prevent us from quitting. I won’t be tempted to tap out because I have created this life, I have made everything neat and tidy. We lose our ability to persevere because we think quitting is easier.
I want to jump in today with a story about someone who was faced with that same temptation to quit. Would you open your Bibles with me to Joshua chapter 6, page 148. We see a man named Joshua who God is speaking too. Joshua is best known as Moses’ second in command who takes over and leads the Israelites into the Promised Land after Moses’ death. He is considered the Bible’s greatest military leaders. And yet he faced a situation that anyone in their right mind would be tempted to quit.
1Now the gatesof Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
2Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
Seems crazy to me. Who wouldn’t do exactly what God says if we know what the ending is going to be? Right? But here’s the problem, we have the privilege of seeing the whole story but Joshua didn’t. Look at what God asks him next.
But Joshuahad commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout.
Can you imagine being Joshua and telling your army, “We are going to walk around the city for 6 days and say nothing.” That’s like going on a road trip with three toddlers and expecting them to be quiet. Doesn’t happen! I mean for real – 6 days. It’s all good to do it for one day. You can do anything for one day. Let’s keep reading
14So on the secondday they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
The men in Joshua’s army must have thought he was insane. You have to understandthis is an army they fight they don’t march. It’s like telling the Starbucks barista that you want to deposit your check into your savings account, they are going to look at you like you are crazy. That’s not what they do. As a military leader, he’s loosing street cred. I tell you what else, if I was Joshua I would have quit on day 2. What was before Joshua seemed crazy. What he was asking of them was embarrassing. Keep marching in silence till I tell you to stop. Day after day. It’s not like stuff was happening each day either. It wasn’t like every time they circled around the city, a couple bricks started crumbling or part of the wall began to shake. Nothing happened. Nothing. But just because they couldn’t see anything was happening doesn’t mean God wasn’t moving. Even though Joshua couldn’t see God moving He displayed perseverance. What we see from this is, God’s working while you’re walking
Just because God hasn’t showed us the ending doesn’t mean, He’s stopped working. Joshua believed that God’s word was true, even though he didn’t understand why he had to walk in silence. In his walking He couldn’t see God doing anything, but he kept walking. I believe there are times when God only gives us a small glimpse of what the whole picture is going to look like. You and I need to be obedient to keep walking even when we can’t see the ending. We need to keep plugging away, keep praying.
In 2 Corinthians 5:7 it says,
“For wewalk by faith, not sight”.
Do you know what this means? The Christian life is not based upon seeing but believing. We keep walking, not because we are shown how everything is going to work out but because we believe (we have faith) that God is working. While we’re walking, God’s still working.
You see God’s invisible sovereign hand is around us at all times. When we say that God is Sovereign it means He is displaying ultimate power. God’s hand is sovereign because there is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority. We can’t forget that it’s the Lord’s invisible sovereign hand that is guiding us, leading us. Even when it feels crazy (like marching around a city for 6 days or raising 2 teenagers at one time) I mean who would plan that????
We have to keep walking. God’s working while you’re walking
Joshua could have given up. He could have said, I marched for a day, nothing happened I am done. There is no way I am getting up again and doing the same thing over again tomorrow. Just like Joshua circling the city over and over, our jobs, our marriage, our parenting starts to feel like that. How many times am I going to ask him to remember to take the trash out? How many times do I have to remind this kid to turn your phone on so mom can get a hold of you?
I wonder what you’re growing tired of walking through?
Sometimes we become blinded to what God is trying to teach us because we are so focused on walking around in circles.
We need to stop worrying about what our next step is, and get our eyes up from our feet to looking in front of us. I hear people all the time say, I don’t know what God has called me to do. I do! God has called you – to what’s in front of you.[point to canvas]
Whether it’s your job, your marriage, your kids. He has called you to that. And if He’s called you to that – you CANNOT give up. God is with you in the walking, so don’t stress about where your feet are going-because HE’s already there. Keep your eyes up – remember His promises- and persevere.
Let’s go back to chapter 6 in Joshua and jump in at verse 15.
15On the seventhday, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. …20When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.
We wouldn’t even know about this story, if Joshua didn’t push through till the 7th day. So many of us want to throw in the towel on the 3rd, the 4th, the 5th day of marching around the city, because the process of walking and not knowing when it’s going to end is so hard. So many of us don’t realize that we may be starting our 7th lap around Jericho, and the blessing is right around the corner. If Joshua had stopped on the 5th day, he would have missed it. Don’t miss the blessing because you’ve forgotten that God is in the process. We need to (pt 2) Embrace the Process.
Sometimes we only have a small glimpse of how it’s going to work out – but praise God, He sees the whole picture. He sees how everything is going to come together.
Joshua shows us the temptation is always there to quit.
Embracing the process of waiting can be hard, even when you know the ending. It’s sort of like potty training. By my third kid, I knew without a doubt I could get her to be potty trained – she was not going to kindergarten in a diaper. But even though I knew the ending it didn’t make the process any easier. One time I sat there, let’s be honest I was crying – I timed her 60 minutes she sat on that potty – even with her reward a box of munchkins staring her in the face. The second I got up, that child got up and peed on the ground next to the potty. I WANTED TO QUIT. Why? Because even though the process is hard – even though we know that it WILL happen.
We only want to continue walking if we know when the breakthrough is going to happen. We want answers but guess what God wants obedience. Listen the process stinks; it’s hard, its messy, it’s stretching.
Look at the verse in Romans 5:3-4
“we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance,character, and character, hope.”
Suffering is the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. God isn’t saying here to need to rejoice when your heart hurts, he is telling you to rejoice in the assurance of His grace and provision. It’s pain and hardship that lead to perseverance —and the power of perseverance is it produces character. Because (pt 3) There is Power in Perseverance. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope.
I think as parents we are quick to look at our kids and call out what we see “He’s so stubborn”, but you know what God sees a leader. We see weaknesses in our kids, and He sees a gentle heart. We see our kids as difficult and God sees a problem solver. Even as adults we see pain, and God sees strength being formed. We see the impossible and God just sees a way to display His awesome power. Our God has bigger plans for our children, for us than we can even dream up. We walk around stressing and thinking about the little things we are going to for our kids (organic snacks, making sure they get the best teacher, did they make the team) and we think we are controlling it all. When guess what God is bigger than all of that. Listen I love healthy food and I love education, sports – but those aren’t the things God is worried about. He wants to use their lives to point people to Him, He wants us to point people to Jesus. Keep pointing your heart to Jesus, keep pointing their little hearts towards Jesus. Stop worrying – stop thinking that our hands are the ones that are controlling everything –GOD’S SOVEREIGN INVISIBLE HANDS are over everything so you don’t have to be.
You can’t begin to imagine, I can’t even imagine what your kids are going to do because you held on and didn’t give up. Think about the stories you will one day tell because you embraced the process and you persevered. What stories will your kids say about you, about your courage to persevere through what God has put in front of you?
Can I be honest with you? I spoke last Mother’s Day for the first time- I mean I preached at church – which those words coming out of my mouth don’t even make sense in my world. That’s not what I do. It is incredibly hard for me to stand up on this stage because it’s not really fun – doesn’t exactly bring me joy – because let’s face it – you guys are scary, some of you are smiling and some of you are not and its scary. But I spoke last Mother’s Day and even though everyone said I did great, I wasn’t ready for the emotional dip that happens after you are vulnerable in front of a bunch of people. I had a few months where I struggled with my emotions, honestly felt a little depressed, I kind of retreated and became isolated, on Sunday mornings I wanted to just hide in the background. But I had a moment with God this past summer walking the beach listening to worship music – where He reminded me – my primary job on this earth is to point people to Jesus. I’m not on this earth to only raise kids, I am not on this earth to only have a great marriage, to only have a beautiful house and a beautiful life. You and I are here to point people to Jesus. We have to stop thinking that we have a better way, that we have a safer way. We’ve got to lay down any safe guards that we’ve built up, and walls we have created to keep out hard things. You and I we’ve got to persevere and keep pointing people to Jesus.
So why do we embrace the walking in pain, in difficulties? Because (pt 3) There is Power in Perseverance. The power of perseverance is it’s creating a testimony in us and through us so everyone can see God’s hand in our lives. Not so everyone can see how good we are and how great the life is we created.
I found this definition for perseverance: look at this
To persevereis to overcomeproblems by rethinking a hopeless situation and giving it time instead of rushing foolishly into the unknown. To persevere is to give time for the shock valueto go away and to realize that things may not be hopeless. To carry on, to keep on swimming, to become patient.
There is power in Perserverance.
What this author doesn’t know – is that if you have Jesus in you – than the impossible is possible. If you have Jesus – you will circle around the city a hundred times because you believe that God is leading you somewhere. If you have Jesus you will persevere because He ultimately persevered. Don’t think that God just works with the most talented people but with those that preserve.
The Bible is filled with stories of normal people – that through their perseverance and faith – God did incredible things with their lives.
Godly Perseverance is the day-after-day faithfulness to get up and do what is needed, regardless of obstacle in order to bring glory and honor to God.
Thank goodness my parents didn’t give up on me, if your still thinking the middle finger story was bad you don’t want to know all that I put my parents through when I was a teenager. Praise God my parents, they never gave up. They never checked out, they persevered. They never stopped trying to point my feet in the right direction. I think sometimes we believe the lie that as our kids get older our voices become smaller. Teenagers want you to think that. But your voice always matter to them. Even when they tell you they don’t care what you think, they do. My parent’s voice still matter to me. I don’t want you to miss this – God used my parents faithfulness (their perseverance) for my fruitfulness.
Parents your job is to grow fruit on your kids trees. Those 18 years are going to go in a snap, don’t be fooled into thinking some of those years you get to check out or click on cruise control. Let me remind you – you will never stop being their mom and dad. Don’t ever stop praying for them. Don’t ever stop cheering them on. Don’t ever stop being in their corner. Because why – there is Power comes in perseverance. This blank canvas of our life, our kids life, it’s going to very quickly be filled with things that are out of our control. Pain, disappointment, heartache, waiting. All of these things that we are going to try and work so hard to protect ourselves from, protect our kids from, God will use for His good. He will take each of these things and weave them into our story, He’s painting a picture we can’t even see yet. He’s growing us to be more like Him.
He’s creating a beautiful masterpiece in us, in our kids. He’s taking the all those moments that we walked through, all those things we preserved through, and He’s creating a beautiful story.
You need to remember that He’s only letting you see a small part of the bigger picture. Even in the suffering, there is perseverance, there is character being built, there is ultimately Hope.
You could be one more lap away from seeing His glory, His power play out. You could be on the 6th lap of your marriage being restored, of your job success. You could be one more lap away from defeating your hurts, your habits, and your hangups. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on what God is doing in your life. Don’t give up on your kids. God can do the impossible. Let me remind you; keep on walking, persevere, because there is Hope. Trust that God has a beautiful story He wants to paint through your life. He’s going to take all that pain, all the disappoint, the heartache and redeem it for His glory as your persevere.