Sunday, June 1, 2014

Throwing in the towel...

Most of us know what this term means.  We can visualize the boxer in the ring getting hit over and over-his manager picks up a towel and out of mercy for his boxer throws it into the ring ending the fight.  Or if someone you remember in the 80's Canucks coach Richard Nielsen upset and frustrated with the referring of their Stanley Cup semi-final game against the Chicago Blackhawks, he grabbed a white towel off the bench and raised it as a mock act of surrender.  He was indicating that he had 'given up' the refs were making it so unfair, that he signaled with the white towel-'you win mister referee we can't go on we give up'.  Now, it was a mock surrender to make a point-but nonetheless, the sentiment by Canucks fans, especially a certain 11 year old girl who loved Richard Brodeur and my 9 year old brother we had the same feeling-we give up.

 Towel Power!

I have felt some of this sentiment creep into my life recently and have seen it in others too.  Let's not beat around the bush-we have had one doozy of a year so far-it's not even half over!  These past 5 months have felt like years for us-one blow after another, we just get up and get knocked down again. For me (as I will only speak for myself) I want to fix everything, help everyone-make sure everyone is OK, but I can't.  Ebola has raised it's ugly head again, this time near the border of Sierra Leon. We are heading into another season of transition with some of our awesome ex-pat staff leaving and getting ready to welcome new staff soon. We are still waiting for a finance officer-Lord willing they are coming soon! There is just a lot of things going on-and for many they have the towel in hand and are ready to give it a toss. 

 Do you really want to throw in the towel?

Now. Please, I am not complaining-please understand this-we are ALL fully aware that God has us here and we have chosen to be here.  What I am saying is, if we are all honest with ourselves, there are times in our life we want to throw in the towel.  Or we hang on to the towel, roll it up and snap it at people-hurting them and leaving us frustrated with ourselves. Or we take it and put it over our head and just don't care.  I hope I am not stretching this analogy too far.  But these past weeks it has been more and more evident that I am hanging on to a towel- gripping it hard in my hand and wanting so bad to throw it, snap it or just hide in it...

My training for the Liberia marathon is suffering.  I have thought about throwing in the towel and not running it.  I could not run it and justify it by training for the 10km and try to finish in the top 10 or something like that. But I realized on my run today that I would be throwing in the towel not because of how I feel physically, but because of my overall attitude.  You don't quit training for a marathon just because you have had a rough patch of training-or a bad run right?  If that was the case I would have never run a marathon.  It's the same with everything, just because we have had a tough stretch doesn't mean we need to throw in the towel.

This past week in River Gee, Elizabeth shared in devotions about David.  Most of us know of King David-anointed to be king as a teenager but didn't take the throne of Israel until many years after.  He could have thrown in the towel and did his own thing-after all he was anointed to be king right?  He could have killed the then king Saul many times, but he didn't.  He could have gathered an army and led a coup over Saul but he didn't.  No, he spent many years fleeing-fighting, in turmoil and at times coming very close to throwing in the towel.  Elizabeth pointed out 3 very interesting things from David's life that really struck me and my attitude about throwing in the towel.  

1.  Everytime he was faced with a bad situation-like being attacked he asked God "What should I do?" (2 Samuel 5:22-24)
2. Once he got the answer he obeyed ( 2 Samuel 5:25)
3. After the battle was finished and he was victorious he glorified God -not himself. (2 Samuel 7:18-29)

He didn't throw in the towel and do his own thing or take out his frustration on others.  He sought the Lord for guidance.  Now, I know God may not speak to us like He did to David-but He does nudge us, speak to us through His Word and in the wise counsel of others.  David obeyed. David didn't question "are you sure Lord?" -he obeyed.  David was an amazing fighter, he was musical, good looking and wise-he could have taken full credit for everything he did.  But he didn't.  He knew where his strength and wisdom came from.  Read the Psalms!  After all was said and done no matter what happened, David gave the Glory to God.

Great quote by a great author.

I find that I may get 2 out of 3 of these points during times when I want to give up.  Yes, I will seek the Lord, but it sounds more like this "Lord, come on another thing to deal with?"  Not like Daivd "Lord what should I do?"  Ummm that's not the same thing in case you were wondering.  I may obey, but it may be begrudgingly. And give glory to God-well I may not take the glory but instead I may say "Good it's about time we had something go our way!"  You see the difference? This type of attitude-leads us to a point where we get desperate, frustrated and exhausted... 


 So, I will not throw in the towel. Not throwing in the towel for the Liberian marathon or in what God is still doing here in Liberia through us. Despite the setbacks, the blows we have suffered, and the ones to come.  No, instead like David seek the Lord, obey and glorify-but don't give up.  It's times like this when we need to take a couple steps back, turn around and put our towel down at the feet of a loving Savior.  He will take it-and lovingly dip it in His bowl of grace and wipe away our tears and wash our wounds-and tell us He is with us-and it's time to get back in the ring, His work is not done...

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