Today, on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. I want you to finish well. Don't just run a while and then it gets really, really tough, as it will during this year.
It'll get really tough and you'll want to quit. You'll want to go back to a habit that can ruin your life or you'll want to return to a lifestyle that you'll be ashamed of because you quit the endurance race for Christ. If we truly understood what lies ahead in life, we might not have the courage to move forward. But gratefully, God delivers one day at a time. Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll concludes a message he started last time, in which he's invoking a biblical metaphor to guide our steps. In Hebrews 12, the writer describes our future as a foot race. He said, let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. So how do we avoid getting weary and giving up? The key is keeping our eyes on Jesus.
Doubt and discouragement begin to fade away when we are no longer distracted by other things, wishing life were better, wishing we were able to live like another person seems to be able to live her life or his life. And focusing that technique is so valuable, focusing on Christ, staying engaged in the race. Just like a runner focuses on the tape at the end of the course, we focus on the Lord Jesus.
You know, when you're running, you can be distracted by others running the race, by your situation, what you're going through, by things yourself that you're concerned about, worried about. But here it says, looking only unto Jesus, he has gone before us and he remains the model worth remembering and following and honoring. Let me do a quick review here so we make sure we're staying on track. God has prearranged our course, each person's course. That's yours and that's mine. Each individual course, prearranged by our God. Second, preparing for our race is each person's responsibility.
Yours is your responsibility, and mine is my responsibility. And third, stay focused on Jesus throughout the race. The fourth one now ties in with the third, and I get it from this third verse. Think of all that he, all the hostility he endured from sinful people. Then you won't become weary and give up.
Here's the fourth. When discouraged, think of all Christ endured in his life. It'll help you stay at it. It'll help you endure. It'll strengthen you. Now, this 12-month journey will have some hard, very difficult times, I repeat.
I don't want that to catch you unaware, to surprise you, as though something has gotten out of line. No, it's all part of a plan, but you can get discouraged when they occur. And one of the helpful techniques is that you think of all he endured on your behalf. Sometime it helps to have memorized verses of Scripture that remind you of what he endured, a man of sorrows, and he was acquainted with grief. He went through an agon altogether his own. As I've often said, we come to live, but his purpose in coming was to die, in addition to that, to suffer and die.
And because of that, when we suffer, remembering that he has gone through it, we're able to handle the agon, the agony of the journey, a lot better. There will be times when we will get weary. It happens to everyone who runs a lengthy race. At those times, you can be disillusioned and lose your focus. You get distracted, and you'll be tempted to make the worst decision that you could possibly make, and that's just, quit the race. Just stop. There are some who have done that.
You can name some, and I could, too. They gave up. My final point is one I want to camp on a little longer than the others, because it is a decision that some make, and it has dreadful consequences. God has pre-arranged the course for us to run.
Preparing for that course is your responsibility. Staying focused on Jesus throughout the race is essential. When discouraged, thinking of all he endured is a technique that will help you. And the fifth, I want you to write down, and then I want to spend some time on, no matter how difficult life may become, no matter how difficult it may be, how difficult life may become, don't ever give up. Don't ever give up. That has become a mantra for me in my life. Never quit running the race. I want you to finish well. Don't just run a while, and then it gets really, really tough, as it will.
It will. I can't tell you the details, but I will tell you, during this year, it'll get really tough, and you'll want to quit. You'll want to go back to a habit that can ruin your life, or you'll want to return to a lifestyle that you'll be ashamed of, because you quit the endurance race for Christ. You didn't stay at it. Don't quit. Don't stop. Stay in the race, regardless. It's clear to me that that's what the Lord wants for every one of us.
Finish the race that you have begun. Now I want to end with a true story, and I have four-star Admiral William McRaven to thank for writing this story. 37 years in the United States Navy, he served as a Navy SEAL. McRaven commanded at every level during those 37 years. As a four-star Admiral, his final assignment was as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces.
Imagine that. After retirement, he served as Chancellor of the University of Texas System. His commencement speech to the class of 2014 was so effective that it went viral, and as of the time this book was written that tells the story, it had been viewed by over 10 million people. What I'm sharing with you is the climax of his story. My concluding words are taken directly from Admiral McRaven's final point in his speech. The book, by the way, is entitled Make Your Bed. It's the first of a number of disciplines in life he suggests are necessary as you go through the course of life.
And he ends this book with the point, don't ever, ever ring the bell. Now I quote, I stood at attention with the other 150 students beginning the first day of SEAL training. The instructor dressed in combat boots, khaki shorts, and a blue and gold t-shirt walked across the large asphalt courtyard to a brass bell hanging in full view of all trainees. Gentlemen, he began, today is the first day of SEAL training. For the next six months, you will undergo the toughest course of instruction in the United States military. I glanced around and could see some looks of apprehension on the faces of my fellow students. The instructor continued, you will be tested like no time in your life.
Pausing, he looked around the class of new tadpoles, which they were known as, as they began their training. Most of you will not make it through. I will see to that, he smiled. I will do everything in my power to make you quit.
He emphasized the last three words. I will harass you unmercifully. I will embarrass you in front of your teammates.
I will push you beyond your limits. Then a slight grin crossed his face and there will be pain. Lots and lots of pain.
Lots of pain. Grabbing the bell, he pulled the rope hard and a loud clanging noise echoed across the courtyard. But if you don't like the pain, if you don't like all the harassment, then there is an easy way out. He pulled the rope again and another wave of deep metallic sound reverberated off the buildings. All you have to do to quit is ring the bell three times. Ring the bell three times.
He let go of the rope, tied it to the bell's clapper. Ring the bell and you won't have to get up early. Ring the bell.
You won't have to do the long runs, the cold swims, the obstacle course. Ring the bell and you can avoid all this pain. Then the instructor glanced down at the asphalt and seemed to break from his prepared monologue.
But let me tell you something, he added. If you quit, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Quitting never makes anything easier. Six months later, there were only 33 of us standing at graduation. That means 117 quit.
There were only 33 of us standing at graduation. Some had taken the easy way out. They had quit.
And my guess is the instructor was right. They would regret it for the rest of their lives. Of all the lessons I learned at McRaven, of all the lessons I learned in SEAL training, this was the most important, never, quit. It doesn't sound particularly profound, but life constantly puts you in the situation where quitting seems so much easier than continuing on. Where the odds are stacked against you, that giving up seems the rational thing to do. Throughout my career, I was constantly inspired by men and women who refused to quit, who refused to feel sorry for themselves.
His closing words, hear them well. Life is full of difficult times, full of difficult times. But someone out there always has it worse than you do. If you fill your days with pity, sorrowful for the way you have been treated, bemoaning your lot in life, blaming your circumstances on something or someone else, then life will be long and hard. If, on the other hand, you refuse to give up on your dreams, stand tall and strong against the odds, then life will be what you make of it.
And you can make it great, never, ever ring the bell, period. Those are my words to all of you today. I have no idea what your life holds. I have no way of warning you, instructing you, preparing you better than I have today with these words of Hebrews 12, 1 to 3. There is a course that you will run. It has been arranged for you by a government for you, by a God who loves you and knows what is best. It is one that pleases him. Last time I checked, as I go over one year after another, it's never an easy course.
It's deliberately difficult. Remember the words I quoted before I read Scripture? Job wrote them in Job 23, 10 through 12.
Hear them again. He knows the way that I take. How could God know the way that Job took?
He planned his course. He knows the way that I take. When he has tried me, I will come forth as gold. His way have I kept and not declined. Neither have I turned back from the command of his lips.
I didn't ring the bell. I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. And as a result, Job stands out as one of the heroes. Not just a man of patience and endurance, but of faith. He hung in there.
He didn't quit. He didn't take his wife up on her suggestion, just curse God and die. And of course, she's in agony also. She's in grief. She too had lost all the children.
She too had known now the horrors of bankruptcy and living at the city dump. But he said to her, how could I ever do that? The Lord gives and the Lord is taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. What a way to continue one's life. That's what I want for you. That's what I want for me. That's what I want for me.
I don't want to hear the bell ringing and I don't want to ring it. I want us to give this life our very best, regardless of what occurs. That's what Christ did and his life ended before he turned 35. Look at all that he endured and because of what he endured, look at the benefits that have come to us.
You want a life like this? It begins with where he paid the price, the cross. It's at the cross where we first see the light and the burden of our heart rolls away. We trust in him. We rely on him. We stand fast in him and we never, from then on, ring the bell. Let's commit ourselves to that kind of life from now till he says it's over. In Paul's words, I've fought the good fight.
I've finished the course. I've kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me and to everyone who loves his appearing. That's what we have before us. Never, ever, ever ring the bell, okay?
Never ring the bell. Thank you, Father, for the hope there is in Christ, for the strength that comes in knowing he endured and therefore we shall also endure. Help those this day who suffer, some of them unmercifully. Give them the strength to go one more day to lean on you.
Remove from their thoughts any idea of quitting, turning back, moving toward a lifestyle that would be of shame to the name of Christ. May we walk with you regardless of the challenge that we must face and give us that sense of confidence and hope that you are in it through it with us as we walk with you and run the rest with us as we walk with you and run the race with you. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Everyone said amen.
It's possible that you felt like ringing the bell and giving up yourself. It's our hope and prayer that today's message from Chuck Swindoll has inspired you to fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. You're listening to Insight for Living. Today's program is featured message number two in a two-part mini series called Pressing on in Faith. If you'd like to learn more about Chuck or this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org.
And then as we look ahead, you'll be pleased to hear that we're going to be taking a deep dive into some of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith. It's a 22-part teaching series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. Along with these messages, Chuck has written a book by the same title.
It's filled with humorous stories and down-to-earth applications. Chuck's book reveals how the practical side of theology is what helps us grow deeper in the Christian life. To purchase a copy of Growing Deep in the Christian Life, give us a call.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or go online to insight.org slash store. Chuck's personal mission is to help you learn more about the Bible and its relevance to your life. It's all made possible because people like you give voluntary donations, and we're especially grateful for our regular monthly givers. We call them monthly companions. Through your gifts, you're providing a constant source of reliable Bible teaching for people who have come to rely on Chuck's daily presence. To provide for someone else what was once provided to you, we invite you to become a monthly companion right now by calling us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can sign up online at insight.org slash monthly companion. Treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget on the Insight for Living Ministries Cruise to the Great Frontier with Chuck Swindoll. Honestly, I had no idea that a cruise to Alaska could be so much fun, and without a doubt the stunning views took my breath away. God's artistic genius is on full display in Alaska.
In fact, I guarantee this. You'll come home refreshed and filled with awe for his majestic creation. Yeah, at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins.
They were playing and spinning in the waves. It was amazing. You'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore, lingering conversations around mealtime, and strolling through the idyllic ports of call. You'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day, laughing, singing, and celebrating our God. Plan to come with us, won't you?
The dates are July 1st through July 8th, 2023. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444 or visit insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Tomorrow, Chuck Swindoll starts a practical study called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. Join us Thursday to hear Insight for Living. The preceding message, Looking Ahead, Let's Prepare for the Race, and the sound recording, were copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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