Summary: Have you ever wanted to call it quits? We all have. Every single one of us has, especially when the press of people’s opinions suffocate us.
Have you ever wanted to call it quits? We all have. Every single one of us has, especially when the press of people’s opinions suffocate us. Or when the demands of others’ expectations coupled with our own sense of inadequacy and failure squelch our spirit. When it comes spiraling down to an ever-increasing, tightening spiral, we want to call it quits.
There are times when your line gets so tangled that you need to cut your losses for the sake of survival. However, that’s a subject for another time. Today I want to talk about the majority of time when that is not an option. When you really need to hang on but you just can’t seem to do it and you feel caught between two bad options. One, to continue as is. Two, to quit. And they’re both bad options. What will you do when you’re caught between the two?
I have a friend named Gary who felt that way. When I was in ministry with him he was telling me about a time he was running a quarter-mile relay. That’s a very fast relay. Basically, it’s once around the track and there are guys on each of the quarters waiting for the baton. It was a big competition in a small town and he was running anchor. And the whole thing takes place in less than a minute. Once around, you pass the baton, doing this three times, and off that one goes to the finish.
People were packed in the grandstands that day. It was spring so it was a little chilly and the runners had sweats on. Now Gary, being anchor, was the last guy to be in the box. When the gun went off, his role was to remove his team’s starting block from the track and then get to his box and wait for the baton to hit his hand, all within about forty-five seconds.
And so the gun went off – Bang! – and he ran to remove the blocks. Usually he has plenty of time to get to his box but the foot pegs fell off so he only had time to grab them up and run back toward the starting box. But he suddenly remembered that he still had his sweats on. He saw his teammate flying around the corner, so he whipped off his sweat pants as fast as he could and ran to the box. Bam! He had made it just in time to feel the slap of the baton hit his hand and start sprinting to the finish. Yet as he was racing, he noticed people yelling more loudly than they should. He also noticed that it was colder than it should have been. And as he looked down he had a final realization: he had taken off a lot more than just his sweats.
In that moment, Gary said, he was caught between two bad options. One option was to continue and the other was to quit. In that split second, amidst all of the aghast onlookers, Gary faced the option to either hightail it towards the locker rooms by taking a sharp left turn across the field or to zip to the finish. He chose to zip across the field to the safe harbor of the lockers. I rolled with laughter when he told me that.
Have you ever felt that way—where you’re caught between two bad options?
Another friend of mine has. His name was Peter. Someone I’ve come to identify with and appreciate over the years. If you had known him in his youth you would have called him Simon. Simon was promised a very prominent role in a new kind of fishing venture. He used to catch fish from Galilee but, due to a strange twist of events, he met the Master. This Master not only gave him a new name, Simon Peter, he also gave him the most inspiring, earth-shattering, compelling vision he had ever received. In fact all the other visions and invitations that he would receive from then on would pale in comparison to this one.
Peter would no longer be fishing for fish; he would be fishing for men. And it gripped his heart. Oh, how he would love to be a part of that. I can still recall Peter telling the story of when he first met the Master. Allow me to share his story with you…
“I remember the first time I met the Master,” Peter said. We were sitting around a small campfire when Peter picked up a stick and began to stir the fire. As he did, he began to stir up memories along with the embers, causing a flurry of sparks to rise, dancing above the flames, like momentary fireflies. They would dance for a glimmer of a moment … then disappear into the night. He continued to spin his story of how he first met the Master.