To Quit Or Not To Quit
"Defeat doesn't finish a
man--quit does. A man is
not finished when he's
defeated. He's finished
when he quits."
~Richard M. Nixon~
Failure only becomes defeat when we surrender to it, wallowing in its muck of self-pity. Our natural inclination is to give up instead of getting up, dusting off, and pressing on.
Quit is a voice that speaks loud and clear in our culture. It cries out incessantly, making it too easy for us to fall into a quagmire of depression and hopelessness.
Failure is normal. The only way to avoid it is to permanently keep our mouths closed and do absolutely nothing. Failure is inevitable—part and parcel of life.
It is the universal human drama that plays itself out again and again, though seldom do we address it honestly. We skate away from it without assimilating valuable life lessons or we quit and withdraw into a shell of defeat.
We fail—probably more often than we admit. We say the wrong words, do the wrong thing, miss an opportunity or make poor decisions. Failure can create serious consequences, strained relationships, and bouts of insomnia, but it is not fatal. If failure were fatal the church would have never come into existence.
A first-century fisherman named Simon Peter failed. He had set aside his livelihood to become an integral member of Jesus of Nazareth’s inner circle, but at a crucial juncture, Peter personified failure. His crisis of faith is recorded four different times in the world’s all-time best-selling book.
When Jesus gathered his disciples in an Upper Room to commemorate Passover together, he spoke openly of an impending crisis that would cause his friends to scatter like sheep.
Headstrong and brash, Peter refused to hear such talk. He boldly declared: “Even if all fall away, I will not. Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Later that evening, Jesus was seized by temple guards, bound, and taken away to be interrogated by high ranking officials of the Sanhedrin Council. Peter and John followed at a discreet and safe distance, with John managing to get inside, while Peter held vigil outside.
The kangaroo court’s quest for mock justice dragged on through the night. Jesus didn’t receive any of the rights or legal niceties we’d call due process. Hearsay and manufactured evidence were the key pieces of the prosecutor’s case.
Reading the accounts one gets a sense that the arrest became headline news along Jerusalem’s grapevine network. Servants and officials gathered outside, kindling a small fire against the chill.
At some point, Peter joined the cluster around those flames to warm up, and he was recognized as a Galilean who had been with Jesus.
As the fingers of dawn stretched in the eastern sky, Peter vehemently claimed that he wasn’t even acquainted with Jesus of Nazareth—not once but three times.
After a little while, those
standing near said to Peter,
"Surely you are one of them,
for you are a Galilean." He
began to call down curses on
himself, and swore to them,
"I don't know this man you're
Peter’s denial is an event we all identify with because it illustrates well the human dilemma—the constant tension between our ambition to be faithful followers who desire to know Christ and the harsh reality of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
It reveals the obvious distance between our willing spirit and our weak flesh; the discrepancy between our wanting to do something with our faith and our failure to follow-through.
Peter can be a mirror for us. That rough and tumble fisherman spent three years in close proximity of Jesus, living, working, praying, and worshiping with him. Theirs was a strong relationship of mutual respect.
He saw Jesus cross cultural lines to engage in social and racial reconciliation at the risk of alienating his own countrymen. He heard Jesus refer to God as a Heavenly Father whose love extended to everyone; he was present when Jesus confronted religious bigots who practiced the politics of exclusion.
It was Peter who first acknowledged that the onetime carpenter was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And one day on a remote high mountain, it was Peter—along with James and John—who stood in slack-jaw awe, an eyewitness to eternal glory when Jesus was transfigured before them.
Yet when push came to shove, Peter failed. With curses and swearwords, he distanced himself from Jesus. His pretensions of loyalty were stripped of all virtue in a crushing hour of personal failure.
Have you ever experienced the restoration & redemptive power of God's grace?
Have you ever felt like Peter did on that fateful day? He could have been finished. However, God is in the business of redemption, transforming failure into spiritual growth. Filled with remorse, Peter repented in spasms of heartfelt weeping.
Quit wasn’t part of his genetic makeup. Peter licked his wounds, accepted grace, and experienced restoration. He discovered what we all must learn and apply: Failure is not the end of a believer—failure is the place where God shapes us for his purposes.
Our Heavenly Father is always ready to forgive and forget failure. There is nothing we can do that will cause God to love us more than he already does. The flipside is equally true—nothing we can do will cause God to love us less than he already loves us.
So don’t be defeated by failure—get up and go in God’s redeeming grace.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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