If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. [1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)]

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. [2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)]

hairy woodpeckerRalph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination;” I thought of that quote when reading an article about a local man who attempted an unsupported solo ski trek from the edge of the Antarctic to the South Pole. This experienced adventurer spent several years preparing for the expedition and rigorously testing his equipment. With extras of nearly everything, he was sure he’d planned for every eventuality. What he hadn’t anticipated was encountering one of the worst summers the Antarctic has experienced, an issue with a ski that caused him constant soreness in his right foot, and a cracked teapot! The teapot (the lone one he had) was the only way he could melt snow and, without it, he’d have no water. Reluctantly, he asked a support plane to airdrop a new pot and, in spite of his best intentions, the trek changed from unsupported to supported. Then, a combination of wind and foot pain took their toll. Although he’d planned on making ten to twelve miles a day, no matter how hard he pushed himself, he averaged only eight and his supplies dwindled. After over 300 miles and thirty-six days alone on the ice, he approached an area where a plane could safely land. If he continued at his pace, he would definitely need more supplies. Moreover, there was an excellent chance that, if and when he arrived at the South Pole, extraction planes would no longer be flying. Although he’d have bragging rights for attaining his goal, penguins could be the only ones who’d ever hear his boasting. Weighing his options, he decided it was time to leave. “For me, turning back is never the wrong decision,” he said.

Not all of our goals are achievable and not every destination will be reached. If we are clearly following God’s plan, He’ll provide a way to continue. If it isn’t, He’ll provide headwinds and sore feet or other valid reasons to stop. I think of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10 that promise God will show us a way out so that we can endure. Sometimes, the way out is simply saying, “I quit!” Stopping allows us to heal, grow, strengthen, restock, change direction or learn from our mistakes.

At times, we might even need to quit when things seem to be going our way! In an amateur MMA fight nearly two years ago, the fighter who was clearly winning tapped out and deliberately lost. Realizing his opponent was either too proud or too foolish to quit, and knowing he’d seriously injure the man if the bout continued, the superior fighter ended the match. He could have had bragging rights for the win but understood there would be no joy if that meant he’d caused severe harm to another man.

Whether to continue or quit requires prayer, discernment and common sense. Quitting is often the wisest (and the hardest) thing to do. We get so intent on finishing the race in the winner’s circle that we forget the important thing is how we run the race. Both the Antarctic adventurer and the winning fighter who tapped out made the most of their journeys and successfully ran the race God set before them.

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. [Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)]

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. [Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)]

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