Living the Dream | Part 5
Never Give Up
Illustration: Cliff Young
Every year, Australia hosts 543.7-mile endurance race from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered among the world’s most grueling ultra-marathons.
The race takes five days to complete and is normally only attempted by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. These athletes are typically less than 30 years old and backed by large companies such as Nike.
In 1983, a man named Cliff Young showed up at the start of this race.
Cliff was 61 years old and wore overalls and work boots. To everyone’s shock, Cliff wasn’t a spectator. He picked up his race number and joined the other runners.
The press and other athletes became curious and questioned Cliff. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.”
To which he replied, “Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”
When the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff behind. The crowds and television audience were entertained because Cliff didn’t even run properly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the old farmer’s safety.
All of the professional athletes knew that it took about 5 days to finish the race. In order to compete, one had to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours.
When the morning of the second day came, everyone was in for another surprise. Not only was Cliff still in the race, he had continued jogging all night.
Eventually Cliff was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. To everyone’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight through to the finish without sleeping.
Cliff kept running. He never gave up. Each night he came a little closer to the leading pack.
By the final night, he had surpassed all of the athletes the world knew.
He was the first competitor to cross the finish line, 10 hours ahead of the next closest competitor, and he set a new course record, shattering the old record by more than 2 days.[i]
In one interview during the race, Cliff told the reporter, “It’s not easy. It’s tough. It’s a tough run. You just got to keep going.”
APP: Marriage is tough. The world is going to tell you:
“You can’t make it”
“There is no dream to be lived”
“Just accept it, you’re probably going to fail”
And the stark truth is, if you do marriage the World’s Way that’s true
BUT what if we do marriage differently..
What if we show up at the starting line and run the race differently
What if we do our relationships God’s way
BECAUSE GOD IS SAYING.. through his Word:
“You CAN make it”
“There IS a dream to be lived”
“Follow me.. do it my way.. HAVE HOPE”
“I have created marriage for your joy and my glory”
Love God First
Never Give Up
To the ABUSED: Step away & get safe.. Continue to pray.. Together get counseling (it’s going to take time and accountability)
To the DIVORCED: Devastation.. Guilt.. “I’ve messed all this up already”.. The first day of the rest of your life doing it God’s way can be today
From this day forward, as we follow Jesus.. as we do marriage/relationships God’s way.. as we
LOVE GOD FIRST,
We are also going to NEVER GIVE UP because we serve a God who says,
- “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.”
- who says “All things are possible with Him”
Remove all ENCUMBRANCES and ENTANGLEMENTS (v1)
Encumbrances AND entanglements to be laid aside
- “encumbrance” = onkos (ön – kōs) = weight or impediment
- Some things are not wrong in themselves but they hinder us in putting forward our best effort. So the writer tells us to get rid of them.[ii]
- “sin which so easily entangles us (“besets,” KJV – “ensnares,” NKJV) = unconfessed/unrepentant sin which cripples us and attacks our marriage
5 Encumbrances and Entanglements that We Must Remove
1.) Role Reversal
- When God’s role (not culture’s) for the husband and wife becomes reversed or abused you are headed for trouble
- Both men and women are having a significant identity crisis today
- God made men to be men, husbands and fathers
- God made women to be women, wives, and mothers
- Husbands and wives have the SAME VALUE before God
- Husbands and wives have a DIFFERENT VOCATION – Complement one another
- Picture of marriage in Genesis and the Picture of marriage in NT
(Eph 5:22-23, 25, 33)
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church… 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her… 33 …each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
- Failing to grow from emotional love to soul love
- Communication is critical
- For a marriage to be healthy and vibrant, five areas require consistent attention:
- .including sex
- In-law relationships
- If any of the latter four are troubled, mark it down; communication broke down.
- To walk together for a lifetime requires that we talk on a regular basis.
- From serious conversations to just talking, we must connect verbally if our marriage is going to do well.
- A wise person said it well, “A courtship begins when a man whispers sweet nothings and ends when he says nothing sweet.”[iii]
4.) Time Poorly Spent
- Love is a beautiful four-letter word. Sometimes it is best spelled T-I-M-E
- Time is one of our most precious resources that we tend to invest so poorly
- Work, hobbies, kid’s athletics, internet (men and particularly women)
- Men do not think much about time.
- Women value both quantity and quality of time.
- We have bought into the lie that where we don’t spend time we make up for it with quality time not understanding that quality time is quantity time
- Your spouse wants you![iv]
5.) Wandering Affection
- Be careful to close the door of covetousness and infidelity
- Men and women have basic needs built into the very fabric of their being.
- A man needs admiration and sexual fulfillment from his wife.
- A woman needs affection and intimate conversation from her husband.
- When we are not receiving these things from our mate, we can be tempted to look for them from another person..
- We covet what we perceive others have
- Then the door slowly opens for an affair
- If it comes about that your spouse is not meeting your perceived/real needs, then go to Jesus [v]
- “To get divorced because you’ve run out of love is like selling your car because you’ve run out of gas.” – Groeshell
- When your marriage seems out of gas, fill it with Christ… He will fill you with His love so you can love once again
Remove all EXIT STRATEGIES (v1,3)
- Do not enter into marriage with a way to get out
- One flesh union until death do you part
Important to Understand: Marriage is a Covenant not a Contract
1.) A CONTRACT is based on mutual distrust
- A contract limits your responsibility and it increases your rights.
- It basically says that if we’re in a contract with one another, I’m in as far as you’re in.
- “As long as you make me happy, if you meet my needs, as long as nothing better comes along, then we’ll stick with this; but if you don’t live up to your end of the contract then I’m out!”
- In NT days: Hillel – ultra-liberal and popular teacher.. granted a divorce for anything.. Not enough salt.. Declining appearance.. An argument
- In our day: No fault divorce.. Pre-nuptial agreements
A marriage is not a contract in front of a Justice of the Peace
A marriage is a covenant between man and woman and the Prince of Peace – God himself
2.) A COVENANT is a permanent relationship
- A covenant is based on mutual submission (to God) & commitment (to one another)
- A covenant marriage brings responsibilities not rights
- It is the very opposite of “I’m in as far as you’re in.”
- It is: “Our marriage is Plan A and God help us, there is no Plan B.”
- It is your responsibility to LOVE GOD FIRST and love your spouse with the love He pours out
(1 Cor 13:4-7) 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Remove all ENCUMBRANCES and ENTANGLEMENTS
Remove all EXIT STRATEGIES
Run with ENDURANCE (v2-3)
1.) Have God’s VISION (v2) of what marriage can be
2.) Keep the FAITH (v2)
- Single: That God will bring your spouse
- Married: That God will keep your spouse
3.) Rely on GRACE (v3)
- To endure
- To not grow weary and lose heart
- To NEVER GIVE UP
Singles: Never Give Up on God’s Plan for your relationships
Married: Never Give Up on Your Marriage
With Jesus — all things are possible
With Jesus — any marriage can be healed
With Jesus — your marriage can be healed
With Jesus — you can live the dream
Gospel: Without Jesus, none of this is possible
Jesus gives us our “Never Give Up”
Because that is exactly what He did on the cross for you
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus never gave up.. He took the cross
Jesus has not given up on you!
[i] “The Legend of Cliff Young: The 61 Year Old Farmer Who Won the World’s Toughest Race” Accessed from http://www.elitefeet.com/the-legend-of-cliff-young
[ii] Leon Morris, “Hebrews,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 134.
[iii] Daniel Akin, God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas about Love, Intimacy, and Marriage (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 59–60.
[iv] Daniel Akin, God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas about Love, Intimacy, and Marriage (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 69.
[v] Daniel Akin, God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas about Love, Intimacy, and Marriage (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 61–62.