Author Wednesday: You Can Give Up by Andy Smith

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Author Wednesday

As a child, I struggled to give things up. I refused to give up a toy that was broken beyond repair. I caught various animals to keep as pets. Dad always told me to return them to nature. I loved coins so much that I often pretended to put one in the offering at church rather than actually give one up.

In high school, decisions about giving things up became harder. Scheduling conflicts meant I could not both work and play baseball. I gave up baseball. Some of my friends began smoking and drinking. I stopped hanging out with them. I gave up my career ambition when I learned that I was too small to qualify for it.

In college, I needed to give more things up. I enrolled in a school far from home. As a result, I had to give up being with my family. I also had to give up the comfort of living in a place I knew well. Since homework kept me up late, I gave up long nights of sleep.

As an adult, I face an endless stream of decisions about giving things up. Some have to do with my work. Others have to do with activities outside of work.

We are well into the Lent season. Many people are giving up something for this period. It may be meat, shopping, or the hours they spend on social media.

Why do we give things up? Sometimes, we do so because we are told to. We give up other things because something better comes along. We give up some things because we realize they are bad for us. And we give up a few things because we have limits: we can only have or do so much.

What happens when we give something up? Many people become even more focused on that one thing. As a child, I lost sleep wondering whether or not the animals I had returned to the wild would survive.

As a teen, while at work, I daydreamed about baseball. I envied my former friends who seemed to be cooler than me. I found myself wishfully thinking that I was big enough to pursue my career ambition.

In college, my mind often turned to my family and other things I missed about home. For a while, I was tempted to investigate the long-term effects of inadequate sleep. Whatever I had most recently given up became the focus of my heart and mind.

As an adult, I learned to overcome this tendency. Giving things up is not about those things. Nor is it about me. Instead, it is about turning my heart and mind to something better, something more valuable.

As a result, I no longer feel like I am giving things up. Instead, I am gaining things. And mostly, I am gaining Christ. I am giving up temporal things and gaining eternal ones. I am giving up small plans and getting a part in His big plan. I am giving up shallow happiness and gaining deep joy.

The next time you give something up, fight the urge to focus on it or yourself. Instead, fix your mind on what you are gaining. Sense how you are gaining Christ. God will gladly receive the broken, dark, and dirty parts of our lives that we give up to Him. And in their place, He will give us the wholeness, light, and purity of Christ. That is a far better something to fix our mind on!



Andy Smith is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of OMF Literature. Although religious as a child, he came to faith as a teenager. His conversion gave him a new purpose on life. Holder of an MA in Missions from Columbia International University in the USA, Andy has served as an OMF International missionary in the Philippines since 1989. He has planted churches, particularly in Albay province. He now trains and coaches church planters on how to reap a bountiful harvest for the Lord. His first book published by OMF Lit is Meaningful Evangelism: Choosing Words that Connect.

  1. Mama Sel says:

    This post made me remember the things that I had to give up in my life as a child, a student, a mother, and a wife. In reading this article, I was convicted even more as to what I should write about as I join your “You Can Give Up” blog contest. Win or lose, may God be pleased not only with my words, but also with my life as I offer it as a living sacrifice to my loving God. To God be all the glory!

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