Some time ago, we went through an experience with our son that has served to teach him (and all of us) the difference between backpedaling and giving up.
If you are like me, as a parent you never want to see your child “give up” on something. Whether it’s plans they have established, a team they are on, or a promise they have made. And so we teach them phrases like, “You need to finish what you start” and “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” And rightly so, giving up is not a principal that one is served well to live by. In our convenience-laddened culture, the idea of “giving up” comes much too easily and prematurely. Many simply “give up” the moment the going gets tough or causes them inconvenience. Indeed, commitment is the willingness to be unhappy for a while.
Yet, at the same time, there are times when we need to backpedal. That is, we get into a situation we thought was healthy, right, and in the flow of God, only to clearly find out, it wasn’t. The writings are all over the wall, “something is deeply wrong and even evil here” or “there is something not of God about this” or “this is not something for which God is anointing you.” You may not see those messages with your physical eyes or hear them with your ears, but your discernment and spiritual eyes see it clearly. It’s not a matter of trying harder, cow-boying up, or just enduring a difficult season. It’s not about you merely being frustrated, tired, hurt, or discouraged. It’s about that fact that you pedaled into something thinking it was God’s leading, only to find out, God’s no longer into it, He was never into it from the beginning, or He isn’t into it for you.
Obviously, this takes some skills in discernment to know the difference. God often leads us into situations that are challenging to grow our character and dependence on Him. But at the same time, Satan loves to entice us into things that waste our time, steal our joy, and distract us from God’s true leading in our life.
What’s the difference? God’s presence.
The moment you feel God’s presence/anointing leave you or a situation, it’s time to back pedal, and fast. Yet, as long as you sense God’s presence/anointing, you should never give up.
There have been times of great challenge, adversity, pain, and struggle in my life where in my head I wanted to give up, and could come up with all kinds of reasons and excuses as to why I should and could even spiritualize them. However, God presence/anointing was still there, and so I couldn’t give up. It’s hard to explain in words, but to those who are sensitive to it and seek it out, you can have a sense of what God is anointing (putting His presence into) in your life, and what He isn’t.
A couple years ago, our son Harrison signed up to play challenge-level soccer. He made the U-11 team and was excited about the season ahead. Yet from the beginning, with coaching problems, parent problems, and player problems, we began to discern, “something isn’t right here.” But instead of pulling the trigger too soon, we decided to give it time and see what happens, even to the point I agreed to be the head coach of the team, even after two coaches had previously opted out. Yet the more I got involved, the more the signs became loud and clear, “something really isn’t right here” and this wasn’t a battle God wanted me to fight.
In life, we need to choose our battles carefully, and especially make sure that if you tee-it-up for battle, God better be in it with you. Sometimes we take on challenges and battles God never gave us the green light for. And then we wonder why we tire easily, get bruised and battered, and ultimately wind up discouraged and even defeated.
So what did we do? We back pedaled. We didn’t give up on soccer and I didn’t give up on coaching. Not a chance. Rather, we backpedaled off the team and redirected ourselves to another opportunity for Harrison and our family where we felt God was putting His presence into. It wasn’t an easy decision, but one we knew we had to make if we wanted to be in God’s flow for our family.
Three great questions we all need to ask about every opportunity before us…
1) Is this God’s will? 2) Is this God’s will for me? 3) Is this God’s will for me at this time?
And even after all of your best discernment, always remember, there is nothing wrong with backpedaling when you find yourself into something God is simply not into, or God is simply not into for you