No one likes giving up. We see it as weakness. As something bad. As something shameful or regretful. YouTube is filled with videos encouraging people to keep going, keep trying, keep straining. I like these videos. It is one small part of the internet where something good is happening.
But that's not the path we're going down today.
Instead, I want to encourage you to give up.
I know that goes counter to everything we hear today. Everything we are taught from the time we understand language is filled with the call to not give up. We are constantly told to never give up, never give in, never quit trying and striving for what we want.
But Jesus tells us the opposite.
In Luke 9:23-25 Jesus says this:
“Any of you who want to be my follower
must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. You must be
willing to carry the cross that is given to you every day for following
me. Any of you who try to save the life you have will lose it. But you who give up your life for me will save it. It is worth nothing for you to have the whole world if you yourself are destroyed or lost. (ERV)
In other words, give up.
Give up trying to help yourself and save yourself. Give up trying to make yourself happy. Give up your search for the perfect mate, perfect job, perfect house, perfect life. Give up.
Because you will never, ever achieve it by yourself.
You can't. You can't do it on your own. If you try, then you will fail. Badly. You will reach the end of your life, wondering what it has all been for, and die.
But that's not where this story has to end.
God wants us to give up trying to make ourselves happy so that He can make us better than happy. God wants us to have joy. To be content. To be fulfilled. To have life. Real Life.
If our goal is to make ourselves happy, we will find mist and shadows. We'll be excited at times, maybe even happy on occasion, but it won't last. It will come and go and, like any addict, we will find ourselves looking for our next fix before the current one even wears off.
If our goal is to become God's, however, there will be something much more permanent. Truth.
The truth of joy knowing we are loved by a God more than we could ever know. The truth of contentment knowing that this world is not all there is, but that we are headed somewhere greater. The truth of fulfillment, knowing that we have lived a life following the only thing that could ever make it worthwhile.
So we have two choices. We can give up on trying to make ourselves happy and filled, or we can give up on becoming joyful, content, fulfilled people of God. Those two are mutually exclusive choices, and ones that can be difficult to manage.
God wants us to be His. He wants us to be happy. But not in the way that we usually use the word. God wants us to be happy that we are His and following Him. He wants us to be excited because we have given up everything to be with Him in Heaven forever. He wants us to be at peace because we know who we are and whose we are, no matter the situation we find ourselves in.
So give up.
It's the only way you'll make it.