Breakthrough and Battle

How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Remember how committed and excited you were to go after those things you felt...

How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Remember how committed and excited you were to go after those things you felt called to at the beginning of the year?

Typically I don’t quite feel the same way around this time of year!

Two months into the year I intentionally create some space to see how I’m doing. While there usually is some progress, there’s also generally a sense of “I thought I’d be further long by now!”

So what do you do when you’ve seen some breakthrough but there are still battles to be won?

In the 9th chapter of the Gospel of Mark, I see Jesus doing some things that give me some helpful perspective about this. Up to this point, Jesus has seen significant breakthrough. Preaching to the masses, casting out demons, healing people and investing in the disciples. Now we find Him pausing, going up a mountain to rest and reflect.

Why is this important? Because, like our New Years’ resolutions, there’s still work to be done. Jesus still has work to do in raising up His disciples and in the near future he knows that the cross is coming.

So, in the midst of some breakthrough, how does Jesus battle to see even greater breakthrough?
Here are three keys from Mark 9:

1. Keep an unwavering belief

When Jesus comes down from the mountain he finds his disciples in the midst of battle – and they are losing. There’s a demon they can’t cast out of a little boy. They are so frustrated that the boy’s father says (v. 23) “Do something if you can.”

Jesus is both surprised and disappointed in their unbelief, responding “what do you mean, ‘if?’ Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Yes, there’s still more battle even after significant breakthrough – it’s crucial we keep an unwavering faith (both in perspective and in practice) until the task is complete.


2. Double-down with discipline and consistency

After Jesus casts out the demon, the disciples ask – what was the deal? Why couldn’t we cast the demon out? Jesus replied: “Some only come out with prayer and fasting.”

It’s easy to let up on the gas a bit after we see some results – however Jesus reminds them that sometimes it takes “more effort” to win in the forth quarter or ultimately get the ball across the goal line.

What got you here, won’t get you there – so double-down. What disciplines and rhythms do you need to ensure you don’t ease up on to achieve the prize?


3. Stay focused on the highest priorities

At this point Jesus is as popular as ever, yet in verses 30-31 has an incredible ability to resist the crowds and go after the highest priority: investing in His disciples. In the midst of success (or breakthrough) it’s easy to get distracted – going after good things instead of great things. Keep the main thing the main thing.
Seeing some progress in your life? Go after these things to cross the finish line.