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  • Michael W. Newman

Don't Give Up

For years, riding a stationary bike was part of my workout regimen. In the privacy and safety of my own home I could cross-train with simulated hills and imagined stretches of roadway in dreamed-up wide open spaces—all the while listening to pace-motivating music. Once our kids moved away, my wife and I moved to a smaller home and I relied on our neighborhood workout room for my indoor cycling adventures.

Then came COVID-19. The workout room closed. What would my aging tendons and ligaments do with just the pavement-pounding grind of running? There had to be an answer. I had given away our old but faithful exercise bike, but then I remembered the simplest of solutions: I had a REAL bicycle. It was my 40-year-old Schwinn road bike. I rode that faithful steed to seminary, pedaled that bike as I accompanied my wife on leisurely spins through the park, and, with child-seat on the back, cycled our daughters through our quiet neighborhood.

It was time to resurrect my old bike. A safe two-mile loop formed the heart of our new neighborhood. After a thorough clean-up, new tubes and tires, a fresh lube job, and a brand new helmet, I was ready to roll.

But San Antonio is not easy terrain. My neighborhood loop has two challenging hills. The downhills are easy and fast, but those uphills. Wow.

That’s when I encountered an eighty-year-old antidote to hill fatigue. On most of my morning rides, I passed an older man on his daily walk. As I huffed and puffed and struggled up a hill, there he was. When I thought I couldn’t do it, this crusty but cheerful octogenarian looked me in the eye and said in a gritty and experienced voice day after day, “Don’t give up!”

Suddenly, I had new life. His words of encouragement brought a surge of energy. Against the brutal tugs of gravity, I pushed the pedals harder. My tired legs kept going. I had new life.

Isn’t a word of encouragement powerful? Do you wish you had one? I have good news for you: You have an ancient Word that breathes new life into you!

When you’re ready to surrender, God’s Word speaks: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

When you’re ready to give up, the Word exhorts: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23–25 ESV)

Against the mountains that try to disqualify and discredit, the voice of Scripture casts shame and inadequacy aside with the triumph of Christ’s cross: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV)

When you feel like your life is spinning out of control, the life-renewing Word of God moves you into the embrace of your Savior: “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.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)

Are you straining on an uphill ride? Don’t give up. Don’t give up loving your family. Don’t give up lifting up your prayers. Don’t give up setting a good example for your friends. Don’t give up being kind. Don’t give up being a godly man or woman. Don’t give up fighting that addiction. Don’t give up reading God’s Word and worshipping Him. Don’t give up hoping in Jesus when everything is upside down. Don’t give up resisting the pull of negativity.

Let the heart-reviving Word of God be the voice calling out to you today: Don’t give up!

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