One of the joys of writing a column is receiving feedback from the community. It’s a blessing. But I’m beginning to notice something. Nearly every time someone encourages me about my writings, he or she speaks three words: “Keep it up.”
I find this interesting. But writing isn’t the only activity for which I’ve been told to “Keep it up.” The coach tells me to “Keep it up.” So do my teachers. And my parents. I mean, I’ve been told to “Keep it up” a hundred times throughout my life. Chances are, you can say the same.
Why? Because it’s so easy to give up.
Think about it. Do you ever feel like giving up? Maybe your job. Maybe on your family. Maybe you feel like giving up on the possibility of ever overcoming a struggle. You’ve tried everything. But therapy, nicotine patches, and internet filters haven’t done the trick. Maybe you’re tempted to give up hope. You’re starting to think the cancer will never go away. The family member will never be saved. The bills will never get paid. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re close to giving up on God.
Well, this column is just for you…and me.
I probably don’t need to tell you this, but we live in a distracting world. There’s always something fighting for our attention. Attempting to take us out of the moment. Trying hard to make us afraid. Worried. Anxious. There’s always something to take our minds from one thing to another. Got distractions? I do. But I like to call the majority of my distractions by another name—enemies.
Now, I don’t want you to misunderstand me. Let’s say you’re washing dishes. All of a sudden, your kid throws a bouncy ball into the sink. That’s a distraction. But I’m not calling your kid an enemy. No, but what comes to your mind? What comes through your mouth? How do you respond? Negative thoughts, words, and actions are enemies in disguise. I mean, am I the only one who ever gets distracted from God’s will because of the enemies fighting for my attention?
Hey Isaiah…you’re stupid. Hey Isaiah…I told you it wouldn’t happen. Hey Isaiah…you can’t do anything right. Hey Isaiah…why are you even trying? Hey—ugh! You see what I’m saying? These aren’t mere distractions! They’re attempts from the enemy to take you off course. “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10 NLT). And these enemies just happen to be distracting.
David writes, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…” (Psalm 23:5 KJV). What a beautiful picture. In a distracting world, we must reconnect to the source—our Shepherd, Jesus Christ. While our enemies—fears, worries, anxieties, and struggles—surround us, Jesus wants to prepare a table. A table with two seats. One for you and one for Him.
You see, it’s really easy to give up when we lose focus. So here’s our Shepherd preparing a table to teach us the importance of focusing on Him. Yeah, enemies still swarm you. The table lies within their presence. But your focus is on the One in front of you—Jesus. And when your eyes are on Jesus, it’s hard to give up.
The Bible says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up” (Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT).
Take a seat. Look into the eyes of your Savior. While enemies surrounded Him, He never lost focus of that joy awaiting Him—the salvation of your soul. He’s never given up on you. Why should you give up on Him?
“But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly” (Psalm 31:14-15 NLT).
Just keep your eyes on Jesus, refusing to focus on the enemies surrounding you. Fears. Anxieties. Struggles. Sins. They don’t stand a chance against our God. So keep it up!
Isaiah Pauley will be a senior at Wahama High School this fall. His blogs and videos can be found at www.crosswordsblog.weebly.com