When You Want to Call it Quits

My friend Gary enjoyed telling me about the time he ran a quarter-mile relay race. It’s basically once around the track—with teammates at each quarter-mile waiting for the baton. The entire race usually ends in less than a minute. That’s fast!

The relay Gary told me about was a big track-and-field event in a small town, and the grandstands were overflowing with friends and fans. The weather was chilly and the runners were still wearing their warm-up “sweats.”

Gary, running anchor, was the last team member to be in the box. When the gun went off, his role was to remove his team’s starting block from the track and get to his spot where he would wait for the baton to hit his hand—all within seconds.

Sprinting to the Finish

Bang! The starter’s pistol resounded through the stadium, and Gary ran to remove the blocks. Usually he had plenty of time, but the foot pegs fell off the block, leaving him only seconds to grab them and run back to make his start.

Gary suddenly remembered that he still had on his sweats. He saw his teammate flying around the corner, so he whipped off his sweatpants as fast as he could and rushed to his position on the track. He made it just in time to feel the slap of the baton hitting his hand and then started sprinting.

With his heart pounding, straining toward the finish line, he noticed that it felt colder than it should have. Gary glanced down, only to make a startling discovery: In his haste, he had taken off a lot more than just his sweatpants!

At that moment, Gary said he was caught between two bad options: One choice was to continue and the other was to quit.

In a split second, in front of the astonished onlookers, he had to make a decision. As he recalled to me later, “I faced the option to either hightail towards the lockers or make a mad and daring dash to the finish. I chose to cut left to the safe harbor of the lockers.”

I rolled with laughter when he told me the story!

Perhaps you, like Gary, have been faced with difficult choices — far more weighty than avoiding embarrassment:

  • Should I shade the truth to protect a friendship?
  • Should I remain in this job, when I know the boss is involved in unethical business practices?
  • Should I blow the whistle about an ineligible player on the team?

Ever feel like you were caught between two bad choices? What do you do when you’re ready to call it quits?

It’s one of the toughest things we face, yet oddly enough it is also one of the most common. We all go through times when we want to chuck in the towel. But does giving up make the situation any better? Not really. Misery may love company, but have you ever noticed that company sure doesn’t love misery!

So what do you do when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and you just want to call it quits?

Look at some of the “greats”:

  • Joseph—a cocky upstart abandoned by his family. He became a slave and was then thrown into jail and forgotten in his cell. He learned humility and was finally promoted to Prime Minister over mighty Egypt.
  • Moses—an extreme introvert who stuttered. Not only that he was a murderer — a fugitive on the run in the desert. He led God’s people out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.
  • Ruth—a foreigner and a widow following a depressed, “down-on-her-luck” mother-in-law. She was also a brand-new believer yet she kept her heart humble and became one of Jesus’ ancestors.
  • The woman at the well—a divorcee who had slept around and was the talk of the town. She became the first evangelist after meeting “the Man.”

The Bible’s casting call for heroes reads more like a “Least Likely to Succeed” rap sheet. Yet this list of the least likely is the foundation of Hebrews 11—a commemoration of God’s most faithful men and women across time—and is most often referred to as “The Hall of Faith.”

Don’t be surprised—”the last and least” in man’s eyes are often “the best and brightest” in God’s plans.

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