For sixteen years, I lived in Australia. One of my favorite things about living Down Under was the diverse wildlife–the kookaburra’s laugh echoing across our yard in the morning, the colorful parrots landing on our fence, and of course, the kangaroos hopping all over our paddocks. (A paddock is a pasture, and a kookaburra is a bird that makes a very distinct laughing sound. If you have a minute, find a kookaburra on YouTube and listen to its laugh. It will make you smile, I promise!)
Although the farmers in our area generally saw the kangaroos as being pests, I always enjoyed them. I often counted them during my early morning jogs, and it wasn’t unusual for me to see 60-70 roos on a 10-kilometre run. I loved the way they hopped effortlessly over the fences, and how it took scant seconds for them to cover long distances.
Photo Credit: Nick Hannaford
I saw male kangaroos fighting in the paddocks. I saw joeys peeking out of their mama’s pouches. I laughed when our little dog would chase a group of roos, then execute a quick U-turn when he decided he didn’t REALLY want to catch those big hopping monsters.
But there’s one thing I never saw a kangaroo do.
I never saw a kangaroo hop backwards.
Both the kangaroo and emu are featured on the Australian Coat of Arms, and it’s commonly believed that they were chosen because neither animal can move backwards easily. They symbolize a trait that we would do well to mirror–the attitude of striving forward to our goals and not allowing setbacks to discourage us or cause us to quit.
It is this month we celebrate the New Year, with many of us making commitments and plans for 2018.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
What is your vision for 2018? Do you long to draw nearer to God? Have you felt His gentle tug on your heart, prompting you to tell that neighbor or family member of His love for them? Is He asking you to step out in faith in some area of your life?
Often when we make spiritual decisions in our lives, things run smoothly for awhile. We have our devotions regularly; we move forward in our faith; we feel on top of the world.
But then life happens and we have an “off” day. We skip our quiet time with God. Or we lash out in anger at a family member. Or our resolve wavers a bit and we wonder if God REALLY wanted us to take that step of faith.
“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14
There will be days when we fail, days when we will not hit the mark we have set for ourselves. When this happens, we will be tempted to quit completely.
“I’ve messed up already; what’s the point of trying?”
When this attitude invades our minds, the devil has us right where he wants us. He doesn’t want Christians growing closer to God, or stepping out in faith, or working for the Kingdom of God. He wants us to doubt that we are making even a TINY bit of difference to the world.
In short, he wants us to quit.
Ironically, this happened as I worked on this post this week. I completed the first draft, but it just didn’t “feel” right. I started to question myself, and the doubts bounced around in my head like the nerf gun bullets my boys shoot around the house.
“Why do I even write when there’s so many other writers out there? What could I possibly say that hasn’t already been said?”
“Am I helping anyone?”
“Does God still want me to do this?”
I sent the first draft off to my mom, and asked her if I should just scrap the whole thing. And as moms do, she pointed out the obvious. I was asking if I should QUIT WRITING a devotional about NOT QUITTING. (Cue major conviction at this point.)
“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” Proverbs 24:16
If you are in this place today, I want to encourage you to keep going.
Take that next step, even if it’s a small one.
If you failed yesterday, start again today.
And if you need a little boost, remember those kangaroos. They never go backwards; they are always going forward.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Edited: Just wanted to add one more thing. It’s Saturday night as I finish this, and I kid you not…the problems I’ve had tonight trying to get this published have been unbelievable. Internet problems, computer problems…you name it. I don’t know who out there needs to hear this, but whoever you are, DON’T QUIT! I’m convinced that God has put within someone’s heart a burning desire to do something great for His Kingdom, and you need to hear this message. I don’t know who you are, but I’m praying for you!