How to Give Up
Because I hadn’t called for God, I sank to the bottom of the lake. My last gasp for air was running out as I stretched and strained to swim upwards. But I can’t swim; I never learned how. So here’s what I did those almost twenty years ago: I gave up on God. Though I now reached for Him as last resort, I gave up on Him anyway, thinking him deaf to my prayer. Giving up for me happened during prayer.
So for a moment I lived as though I didn’t need air. For a moment I lived. But we all need breath and we all need the Spirit. For without the Spirit, the body dies. And so I died.
The Story of the Lost Sheep
“So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.” (Luke 15:3-5 NLT)
Jesus didn’t leave me for dead. I had given up on him, but he didn’t give up on me. I was a bloated body floating on the surface of that lake now, filled with the gases of doubts and fears, putrescence of self-deception and delusion. I was barely breathing now, each trawling breath sloughing off the grey water into my nose. And I should’ve developed pneumonia and died for good, but for good my Savior found me and accepted me as I was.
“When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:6-7 NLT)
The Perfect Life that Wasn’t
All of this is to express through metaphors and figures a painful memory of my rejecting God because I couldn’t rescue myself. But what if I had accepted that I couldn’t do so and instead had cried out to Him sooner, like David did in Psalm 18? Would these last 19 years have been a different story?
“God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
You have given me your shield of victory.
Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great.
You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.”
(Psalms 18:32-36 NLT)
What a life that would’ve been! Nineteen years of victory and conquest over the enemies of God. Nineteen years of strength, growth, training, and greatness. Instead, so I now think, I got 19 years of this: doubts, failures, humiliation, rejection, and depression. What did Jesus even save me for? No wonder, I now think, that I want to give up again. To let myself drift beneath the waves and fill my lungs with their water. To simply expire, so that I might sooner see my Savior’s face. Because doesn’t it say:
“For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 NET)