New Year’s: A good time to throw in the towel

By Leonard Lauriault: QCS Columnist

Most people view each New Year as a new adventure – forget past failures and start with a clean slate. Others tend to dwell on their failures, even viewing each new opportunity as another opportunity to fail rather than succeed. This time of the year also can be particularly tough because of the ebb and flow of holiday spirit and winter drab.

Some take a similar view of the Christian life. Each difficulty causes even some long-time Christians to question more and more if there’s a God, especially when they see the prosperity of some non-Christians (Psalm 73: 2-14; Job 21: 7-15). They seriously consider tossing in the towel and giving up on God.

Jesus said this would happen – that as time progressed, the love of most would grow cold because of the increase in wickedness (Matthew 24: 12, 13). How can we keep this from happening? Here’s an answer that may blow your socks off – get busy! We’re not busy enough; that is, to put it more bluntly, we’re not busy about the best things.

An often used life lesson illustration applies here. A teacher filled a glass jar with large rocks and asked the students if it was full, to which they replied, “Yes.” Pebbles were then poured over the rocks as the jar was shaken until more no pebbles would fit. Again, the students said the jar was full, after which the process was continued with sand, at which time the teacher also conceded it was full.

The jar is like our life. The bigger rocks are important matters – the best things – and the sand represents little things that take up most of our time, including things we should not be doing (wickedness). If we fill our life-jar with sand first or even pebbles, there’s no time for the more important business.
I submit that we not only fill our jars with sand, but also pour in water to so completely fill our time that we can’t even come up for air. Then, when a major crisis arises, we’re not at all prepared and throw in the towel.

There is a time to give up (Ecclesiastes 3: 6); but, that’s limited to searching – chasing after things of little value (Ecclesiastes 3: 9-14; 12: 13; Matthew 6: 25-34; Luke 14: 33; 9: 23-25).

Everyone living around here knows that we can’t keep the sand out of our houses. It seems like it can blow right through the glass. If we fill our jar with the best things first (the big rocks), when the sands of distraction or the overwhelming floodwaters pour in, the best things will still be there to anchor our lives.

Jesus knew that the best things were all related to being about his father’s business. This included not only spending time in the temple, but also submitting himself to his parents and allowed him to, “grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2: 41-52; I Corinthians 10: 31). No matter what else was going on, Jesus spent time alone with God (Mark 1: 35; Psalm 46: 1-10). He also commended Mary for doing this (Luke 10: 38-42).

Viewing all things with respect to his father’s business allowed Jesus to sleep through storms (Luke 8: 22-25), stand up for religious correctness against political and religious leaders (Luke 19: 45, 46; 20: 1-8), face death (Luke 22; 39-43), and even take up a towel to serve on his hands and knees knowing he was about to die (John 13: 2-5).

Instead of tossing in the towel, spend time with God and take up a towel (Revelation 2: 4, 5). Do something – everything – you can to bring glory to God according to his word, because if that’s your attitude for every action, he’ll bless you with the realization that even this life on earth is worth living when it’s lived for God rather than concentrating on self.

Taking up the towel of God’s business can take our mind off our own problems if it doesn’t cause us to realize that our problems weren’t so great after all (Romans 8: 18; 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18).

Do you want to enjoy God’s favor this New Year, instead of tossing in the towel, take up the cross and then the towel as you live for him (Matthew 10: 38, 39; Galatians 5: 24; 2: 20, 21; Romans 6: 3-11).

Actively participate at a local church of God’s choice, finding something good to do (Hebrews 10: 19-25; Philippians 1: 9-11).

And if you think something needs to be done, you probably have the talent to do it yourself or pull together a team to accomplish it. Taking up that towel will bring you great joy in life!

Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ