No doubt you know many people who have dropped out of some realm of life... their calling, their relationship with God, their involvement in a faith community. The reality is that endurance and the practice of "faithfully showing up" to what life has for us is falling on increasingly hard times. There are many reasons for the hard times, but the way forward is found in a little passage from Hebrews 12 which I spoke on (session #4) this past weekend at a conference.
If you want to stay in the faith journey for the long haul, there are some key principles:
Remember those who've gone before you and contributed to your faith - both individually, and collectively. St. Patrick's encircling prayer, John Wycliff's translation of the Bible into the language of the people, William Wilberforce naming slavery as evil, Harriet Tubman and MLK blazing the trial against systemic racism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Sophie Scholl naming the idols of nationalism; remember! These are just some of my heroes. They shot the moon, they risked it all. They kept at it in spite of opposition. They let their faith evolve, in the best possible ways, rather than allowing the power structures of the day to hold them down. These are our witnesses! Continue to honor them by running your race, because the baton is in your hands due to their faithfulness.
Remember those who have personally influenced and shaped your faith. For me it was my parents who adopted me into their home, some key sermons and preachers, (including a sermon by my predecessor at Bethany Community Church which I heard while I was in college), some key professors and teachers, and of course, some friends - people who fed me physically and spiritually, and encouraged and challenged me in both realms as well. I'm running my race today because of them, and part of my expression of gratitude is to continue. On those days when pressing on is hard, name your tribe, and run "for" them!!
I need to sweep away the things in my life that are a waste of time. Restoration is NOT a waste of time, so this isn't a call to some sort of legalistic jettisoning of your life giving hobbies. It IS, however, a call to use every moment wisely - which means being mindful of whether your time is contributing to your wholeness and your calling! Consider what you can trim in order to fulfill your calling to _____________________ (insert your calling/project, here).
I need to name the sin that is my 'go to' sin, and renounce it, cut it off. And if I fall back into it, I need to cut it off again, and again. If it keeps recurring, I need help to break free, such as a recovery program, and/or friends who'll walk the journey with you. We all have default ways of self destructing. Take the bold step of naming yours, as the first move toward breaking free.
I need to stay in my swim lane. I'm not the Messiah. I'm not created to be that famous person I envy. I have my own unique race to run, and it's made be healthier physically than some, but not as healthy as others -- it's made me richer than some financially, but not as rich as others -- it's given me more freedom than most of the world, but not more freedom than some. Fine. Where I stand on these charts doesn't matter, because life isn't a test, where I'm charged with climbing to the top. It's a journey... a unique course given me to complete, and the issue is this: will I finish my race? Not your race, my race! That's all that matters. Paul the apostle says that comparison with others is foolish! Let's bury our comparison habits, and get on with our calling.