A Smokey Mountain Parable on Quitting

A couple of summers ago, our family went to the mountains in Tennessee.  We visited a well-known peak called Clingmans Dome.  At 6,643-feet tall, it is the highest point in the Great Smokey Mountain Park and in Tennessee. Views expand more than a 100 miles on clear days. I thought it would be a good idea to take my boys up the trail all the way to the top.  My wife may have had a better idea. Stay in the parking lot and wait.

My father in law, brother in law and I took the challenge. We started hiking while pushing my two older boys up in a double stroller. (Again, my wife’s idea was better). What you need to know, the angle up the trail was about 45 degrees. (Did I say my wife’s idea was better yet?)

People coming down the mountain were looking at us like we had no idea what we were attempting. They were right. We took turns pushing up and up and up. If only we could get to the top, we knew the beauty of God’s creation would be worth it. Problem is, after 30 minutes, we reached a point where we could barely move. My Father in Law was convinced we were only half way there.  We sat on a bench and decided it was time to turn back.  No way could we go on. It was time to give up.

Step after step. Push after push. Yet, nothing to show for it.

Anybody get tired of doing the same thing over and over, hoping to get a different result than what actually happens?  I do.
Have you ever told your children 1.6 million times a day to not hit each other?  Next thing you know? Bat to forehead.  I have.
Have you ever spent hours helping someone through some personal baggage, only to see them turn their back on your advice and jump head first back into their issues? I have.
Have you ever shared your faith with someone over and over and over, for years…and yet nothing?  I have.
Have you ever started a ministry, a group, a job with great initial support only to feel like everyone has left your side a few months later?  I have.

It hurts. It’s hard.

What is the point of it all? Why should you keep investing yourself in a person (ministry, career) when you are seeing zero fruit? Why should you keep working on a relationship that just doesn’t seem to be working?

1 Corinthians 15:58 says:  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The temptation will always be that you are wasting your time.  You’ll believe you aren’t qualified.  You will believe you are a failure. But hear this. You are not a failure.  NOTHING IS WASTED and you aren’t qualified.  But JESUS is and He lives in you.

Apparent must not be the measure of the real result…There may be solid work advancing underground, without any sensible excitement; as we observe the seed that produces the heaviest grain lies the longest in the earth. We are not always the best judges of the results of our Ministry. [Charles Bridges]

God is working. Sometimes you can’t see it. Just keep throwing the seed.

We must be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work God has called us to. Be steadfast in raising, instructing, and training your children, even when it seems like you’re on a wash, rinse, and repeat cycle. Be faithful in helping your baggage-carrying friend, even if it seems like the baggage is actually accumulating! Be abounding in the work of serving others, even when there is no thanks in return.

Now, back to my story.  We were about to give up on our mountain hike adventure.  Then suddenly, out of nowhere an angel appeared.  Actually, it was just a lady coming down the trail that poured courage into us as she saw us about to turn back. “Don’t quit now! The peak is literally right around the curve.  You only have a more steps.” Wait, what? That close, and we almost missed it. We were now encouraged. We pressed on and it was worth every step. Breathtaking view created by a breathtaking Father!

You may be one bend in the road from the prize, don’t quit!