Blog by Christie Elliot
Hebrews 12:1-3 …let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangle us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Some may find this verse to be mere rhetoric that doesn’t quite translate to your current life story. Some could find this text to be appealing but have trouble connecting to the scriptures meaning. As I’ve read this scripture many times; in different seasons of life, it has brought me great encouragement. I have learned this life is much richer when we live it together. I’d much rather run the race of life with my sister in the lane beside me than alone relying on my own strength. I hope you’ll come with me as we explore this verse a little further.
For all of us, our story is different from the next persons and has its own unique experiences. We all understand that this life is not without its challenges. Life doesn’t get busy, it typically stays busy. Some of us are bogged down with the day-to-day, whether that is children, school events, work, social events, college studies, etc. But there is the idea that we are moving forward whatever the case may be. The problem is that we can so easily put our head down and move forward all alone. We can get caught up, or as the writer says “entangled”, and lose sight of who we are doing life with every day. We can begin to look down at the tasks we’re performing instead of looking up to “fix our eyes on Jesus”. I don’t know about you, but I find so much encouragement when it says to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangle us” in verse 1. I find this to be so freeing and liberating to know I can simply lay down the baggage that I try so often to pick up and carry on my own. How much harder is it to run a race with heavy weights strapped to your back? To be honest, I never have and never will volunteer for that sort of race. But how often do I hinder myself with my own emotions, my relationships, my past, or my current choices, and wear those weights with a badge of honor only to have them slow me down, blur my focus and distract me from the end goal. But when I lay those things holding me back to the side and my focus is on Jesus, I can run free towards my purpose in God. With my hands free, I can then reach out to the sister beside me.
Many of us grew up with dreams of what could be. Some of us didn’t dream at all and merely survived. But Jesus was so different. Verse 2 says, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” It doesn’t say that Jesus went to the cross full of joy. He had a joy before/in front of Him that was so much greater, knowing He would fulfill the will of the Father, that Jesus “endured” the cross. He considered it joy to serve His Father, so that we could walk together free of sin in all our raw individuality. So, I find wisdom in how Jesus looked forward with joy which propelled Him beyond His struggle in the moment. In Hebrews 6:19-20 it says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both in the veil, where Jesus has entered as a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”. My desire is to see us bring that hope to each other. A hope that can change a heart, change a life.
In evaluating ourselves and the vast array of things we face in this life, we must make it a practice to stop and reflect on all that Jesus did in the face of adversity. We must remember that it was He (a perfect man) who “endured hostility by sinners” so that we would not grow weary and lose heart. His was the ultimate sacrifice of pure love, so that we could get up every day and face our challenges with strength, confidence and unwavering hope. It’s when we remember how Jesus handled persecution and rejection with a sense of awe that we can take this hope and joy and share it with our sister in the lane next to us. We weren’t meant to do this alone. We were created to be in community. We were created to stand strong for our sister who is struggling, and to lean on another when the pain is our own. Seasons come and go, but with eyes fixed on Jesus we can move forward together.
In closing, I’d point out that the scripture says to run the race with endurance. It didn’t say to run life as a sprint, and the person to finish first is the winner. No, no, it said to run with endurance. The definition of which is this: 1-permancence, duration 2-the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity 3-the act or an instance of enduring or suffering. When a runner is in a marathon they must learn to pace themselves and focus on the end goal. This life is no different. Give yourself time in each season to encourage/be encouraged, find wisdom in keeping Jesus the focus, and never losing the awe and wonder of what Jesus has done. As sisters, we’ll run the race of life, but let’s run it together. Let’s make it a goal to look for ways to encourage and lift our sister up. Let’s reach out and invite someone new to Devoted Conference this year. Because I don’t want to do life without you, and I know there’s a lady out there hoping for the same.
YOU BELONG at Devoted Conference 2017