In It For The Long Haul

Call me crazy but I’m already thinking a lot about 2019 even as I type this in November.  I realize as you read this it is January and the calendar has turned the page.  I try to think ahead and get into a rhythm with these posts.  Usually that means working 4-6 weeks into the future so I have a buffer.  As always, I appreciate your prayers and for thinking of me.  They are not only at work in the present but also God is working through them to what is coming up next.  We never know what tomorrow holds, amen? 

But I’m ready for 2019.  By now, the trees are put away.  The Christmas and holiday season is a wrap.  We are in January and often it’s the month with the most promise.  The days and weeks that follow include a lot of “stick-to-it-iveness” with patience and perseverance if you subscribe to all of that.  If you’ve made some resolutions and you’ve started charting where you want to be by the end of this year, awesome.  I’m excited for you and I salute you to stay the course, buckle down, and keep coming back to those things. 

I think I’ve said it before, but I’m not a huge resolution guy.  I do like to take the end of the year to reevaluate some things and figure out what a new year can look like.  It’s not that resolutions don’t matter…I think they can be very beneficial.  But I think the reason we fall short is because it’s easy to set too high of a goal.  It’s hard to instill good habits simply overnight.  It takes time.  (If you are a resolution maker and a resolution keeper, let me know how you do it!  I’ve got some pounds to drop!) 

I’ve been in a transition season for awhile and with that there’s a lot of stuff to process.  I still have one foot in a world that I’m using as my “tentmaker” position.  I have another foot in the world of ministry where I feel I’m called to go.  The calendar causes me to be keenly aware of my goals and where I’m headed.  I’m going to be 42 this year.  Not getting any younger.  A few more gray hairs and few more signs of wrinkles and aging.  But although the outward man is steadily decaying and showing it, I’m working on the inward man with the desire for it to be alive and vibrant. 
There’s an interesting passage at the end of John.  It is an exchange between Peter and Jesus.  It occurs after Jesus reinstates Peter (remember how Peter denied Christ 3 times before He went to the cross): 

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them…When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You follow Me!” Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. However, Jesus did not say that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you?”  John 21:20-23 emphasis added 

It seems as though Peter has this moment of doubt in wondering about what’s ahead.  He compares himself to John (the one whom Jesus loved).  Peter wants to get a little more “inside information.”  What’s my future going to hold?  What about him (John)…will he have it easier than me?  How are things going to turn out for him?  Peter is an amazing case-study in analyzing Bible heroes.  But let’s be honest.  We all have Peter-like moments.  We all look over our shoulder and to our left and right and compare.  I’ll bet life isn’t so bad for him or her.  Seems like God is blessing them in what they’re doing.  Wish He’d do that for me!  The comparison game.  We all do it and subconsciously, it’s there almost everyday to some extent. 

Guys, I know in 2019 we might be tempted to follow in the footsteps of someone else or take an easier path.  We might compare and be tempted to look for short-cuts because we want what someone else has.  But we have a calling uniquely laid out for each one of us.  Just because our road may get tough at times or the terrain looks rocky doesn’t mean we give up and give in.  We can’t be like Peter searching for the out that lets him follow an easier path.  We have to be in this for the long haul.  Our faith calls us to stand firm, be obedient, and be as bold as lions 24/7, 365 days a year.  No offseason.  No cheat days.  It’s a life we pursue wholeheartedly with abandon to anything else that takes our eyes off the prize. 
As 2019 begins, here’s my BIG CHARGE and rally cry for us as Christians:  Be in this race for the long haul.  Don’t settle for scraps and crumbs when God has a complete feast awaiting you.  Don’t settle for cheap imitations and idols when His presence is the only thing that matters.  Don’t look to other things to offer you the peace and hope that He alone can give.  Keep going.  Keep fighting.  Keep praying and being in God’s word daily.  Meditate on Him and be willing to take everything to Him first.  Jobs, finances, health, marriages, families, churches, friends…take it all to Him and lay it at His feet. 

“In it for the long haul” means a surrender of the will.  Hear me out, it’s not being legalistic by somehow finding God through our duty and service to Him.  No it’s quite the opposite.  I’m convinced as we willingly surrender, we find joy in the journey.  We find calm even in the raging storm.  We see Jesus as the only path we’d take and come what may, we will never stray off or abandon that road. 

One final footnote:  I’m grateful for accountability and for brothers that know my story and know what I’m about (you know if you’re reading this, it’s a shout out and a thank you).  I’m grateful to my wife who never lets me settle for the easy out and keeps pushing me even when I’ve got nothing left.  And I’m thankful for a mom and dad who’ve steadily been praying, watching over and supporting this journey as crazy as it’s seemed at times.  There’s many more I could thank here and I’m not trying to leave anyone out.  But my hope is that anyone reading this doesn’t walk the “long haul” alone.  Yes Christ is there with you and sometimes He will be all you have.  But we are not meant to do this without brothers and sisters around us.  “Tribe” is a buzzword these days and I like the aspect of “finding your tribe.”  In Christian circles, I don’t think it means “find your people” as much as it does find accountability and those who can pour into you (and you can pour into).  So one last charge:  in 2019, find your tribe! 

I love you guys!  I love hearing from you!  What are your big goals and dreams for this year?  I’d love to pray for you and dream along with you!  God bless. 

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