Week 8! Yes, that’s 2 months that most of us have been in isolation & told to stay home as much as possible. We've used curbside pick-ups, streamed church online, ordered groceries to be delivered to our front door. Basically, we’ve lived with minor inconveniences in order to “flatten the curve” & give our healthcare system a fighting chance to keep up with the demand. Politics aside, it was not a huge ask to sit at home & wait & give the virus fewer chances to spread.
But, it’s weary work, isn’t it? We enjoy the variety that our normal life affords. We might thrive on routine, but we also crave the freedom to break up with that routine whenever we so desire. We might not be working on the frontlines of this pandemic, but we are still drooping under the weight of our burden.
we are still drooping under the weight of our burden
Well, there is hope! We don’t have to stay stuck in our feelings. We can cast aside these weights & run with endurance. My church has been walking through the book of Hebrews, and I found chapter 12 so encouraging. I’m not a theology student. I’m just sharing what’s cheered my heart. I pray it lifts yours as well.
We think comparison on social media is bad - take a look at the list of people in the previous chapter! From Abraham to Moses to David, we can feel like real failures when we put our easy (and, boy, do we have it easy) lives up next to theirs. Anyone been sawn in 2? No? Yeah, me neither…
But they were humans & sinners just like us. They struggled with trusting God, but God still characterizes by their faith. Jesus told his disciples that even faith the size of a mustard seed was enough to move a mountain. (Matthew 12:20) So, let’s start with that little mustard seed of faith. Don’t let the testimonies of those who have gone before us make you feel lesser than or condemned. Let them spur you on toward the finish line.
When runners dress for their race, they pick the lightest clothes & shoes. Nothing to hold them back from their goal. They leave their training weights behind. They want to run well & win.
So, that weight are you carrying? That sin that’s clinging to you? Bring it to Jesus.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22a)
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1: 9)
Run - move with purpose! Endurance - move with determination! The race set - the task at hand.
We don’t cut corners so the race is over faster. We don’t just do whatever we need to do to get through the day.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3: 23)
Priscilla Shirer recently posted this on her instagram & it fits so well here.
How are we able to do all of this running, all of this enduring? Because Jesus has gone before us. He has taken the punishment for our sin & is risen & seated in the place of honor. He is our example. He is our hope.
Now, let’s skip down to verse 12 & 13 where we get back to our race metaphor & find out how we can go beyond focusing only on our own race to help others -
Have you seen those pictures of marathon runners helping each other across the finish line? That’s the picture in my mind as I read this. These highly conditioned runners are struggling to reach their end goal. I’m not a runner (stop laughing at that terribly obvious statement), but I know that there is a special camaraderie among these marathoners. They cheer each other on. The help each other up. They help each other reach the finish line.
What a beautiful picture of the body of Christ! We are told to “bear one another’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2a) When we see each other struggling or when a friend confesses that they are struggling, we need to react in love & humility. The writer of Hebrews is quoting from Isaiah 35:3-4. So, let’s take a look at those verses:
“Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!”
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come to save you.”
We can encourage each other with the hope that we have in God. He is faithful & will strengthen us.
One last verse I want to share. It’s I Thessalonians 5:14.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
Let’s get the focus off of what we’re missing out on (that canceled vacation) or what we’re being forced to do (homeschool? gulp!) Instead, let’s lift our eyes. First, to Jesus. He has run this race, and He ran it perfectly. We can run because He has already run. Second, let’s lift our eyes to others. Who can you encourage today? (We’re all weak & struggling in some way so there’s no wrong answer!) How can you reach out & cheer someone on? Who can you help? Who needs your patience today?
I’ll end with this song that brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it, particularly these lines. It reminds me that I'm not in this alone & this is not the end. We are heading for our true home with God.
from “Almost Home” by MercyMe
“So take joy in the journey
Even when it feels long
Oh find strength in each step
Knowing heaven is cheering you on”
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