The word has been rolling around in my head for the better part of a month. Not the traditional two-weeks notice kind of resignation – the other kind.
The kind that slips in unnoticed and allows us to continue but keeps us from enjoying it.
The kind that steals hope and joy and light but seems generous in its offer to allow us to keep going through the motions.
The kind that accepts the undesirable as inevitable but keeps marching on.
The kind that dulls our eyes and our senses but plods along in apparent strength that isn’t anything more than habit.
Beth Moore wrote a blog post this week: To Servants of Jesus in Your Thirties and Forties. It’s really honest and encouraging, and if you haven’t read it, you should. (Even if you’re not in your thirties or forties.)
I’ll confess that the first thing I liked about it was that it felt good to be on the younger end of something again. We get to the end of our twenties, and it feels like we should have arrived somewhere. Anywhere. Anywhere but here. And her words spoke life and hope to the journey, to the keeping going, to the not quitting, to the walking this life out with the Lord no matter what keeps daring us not to.
But it struck me again, and her words spoke to this:
Perseverance is an invitation to so much more than just not quitting.
Oh, the devil wants us to quit. To quit seeking Jesus. To quit being faithful in the day-to-day. To quit meeting together. To quit praying. To quit opening up the Scriptures.
But the enemy of our souls will settle for resignation where he cannot make us quit.
To resign to seeking Jesus without ever expecting to find Him. To resign to faithfulness with everything except our hearts. To resign to meeting together without ever really sharing our lives. To resign to opening up the Scriptures without letting them land heavy on hearts turned desperate toward the Author.
Some of us have resigned right here in the middle of the not-quitting.
Maybe disappointment lingered a moment longer than our wishing could sustain, and we took our eyes off of Jesus just long enough to blink back the tears, but we never could quite find Him again after that.
Maybe words were spoken that pierced our hearts in a way that stole our dreams, and those words got tangled up in “holiness” so that we don’t know if it was God or man that spoke them.
Maybe we looked to another for comfort or clarification or confirmation when we should have laid our broken hearts before the only One who could mend them. And maybe now it’s been so long that we don’t know how to take the mangled mess before Him.
Maybe an opportunity that felt like God’s plan got pulled right out from under us.
Maybe it hurt too badly to keep hoping so we withdrew just a little and didn’t realize we were drawing bounds around our hearts that would keep the Lord at arm’s length.
Maybe we just got tired. Said too many yeses. Wore our hopeful hearts right out.
I don’t know what it was that did it. But we got here. To this place where we still do all the things, but we don’t have all the joy anymore. We don’t have all the hope. We don’t have all the peace.
We wonder if we have any of Jesus at all. Wonder if we ever really knew Him as we thought we did.
We wonder if this is what perseverance is – just not quitting.
But perseverance must be more than that.
We hope that it is more than that. And hope rubs up raw against this resignation.
And it whispers a reminder of something that we used to know:
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, NASB)
It’s that bit about the perseverance bringing character that brings hope. Hope that does not disappoint. Because it’s the the very love of God poured straight into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Maybe it’s time for the resigned to open our mouths and our hands and our hearts and to look heavenward again. To beg for that Spirit to pour out fresh. To trust the hands of the One who pours. To let Him drench us in a Spirit that our flesh cannot contain.
Maybe it’s time to put our faces back on the ground and beg Him to do what we never could. To come in power. To come with life. To resurrect hope where we’ve let listlessness reign for far too long.
Maybe it’s actually time to quit. To quit settling. To quit going through the motions. To quit resigning ourselves to religion when what He promised us was Life – when what He promised us was Himself!
I am almost afraid to ask Him. But even in my hesitation, my heart quickens back toward hope. Because I’ve tasted enough of Him to know that He is good (Psalm 34:8). Because He promised. Because He’s faithful.
Let’s pour out these tired confessions. Let’s weep or yell or whisper. Let’s open up and tell Him all about this hopeless hollow that’s been carved out in hearts that started out with so much joy. Let’s pull the curtain back on this cavern and let Him see.
And then let’s wait for Him to fill those hollowed hearts with hope that really will endure.