Let’s strip

You don’t have to be an Olympian to know that, if you’re running a race, any extra weight you carry is to your detriment. One might train with resistance, but when you step up to the starting line, you want to approach it with as little on you as possible. Every ounce can make a difference. When you have a crowd of people cheering you on, you want to do your very best. Keep your eyes on the prize and run for all you’re worth.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.

Hebrews 12:1-2a (NLT)

The term strip here means more than just taking off some clothing. It means to pull or tear off, to cast off, to separate from something connected. It means to sever yourself from anything that might hold you back. The implication is that, once that hindrance has been taken off, you don’t look back. You don’t think twice about picking it up again. You take it off and you run away from it as fast as you can.

When was the last time you saw a runner say, “Oops, I dropped something!” and go back to pick something off the track before continuing the race? Once you start running, the finish line needs to become your only focus. No matter what other distractions may pop up, your eyes need to stay fixed on the prize—Jesus.

Our race may be a sprint or it may be a marathon. Either way, we cannot afford to carry extra weight, nor can we afford to be distracted. That great crowd of witnesses—other believers past and present—are there to cheer us on offering guidance and encouragement. You are not the first to run this race of faith, nor will you be the last. But if any of us are to finish, it will be because we’ve kept our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.

So let’s strip off everything and anything that may slow us down. Let’s help each other and cheer each other on. We’re all in this race together.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 16, Hebrews 12

Hope

I’m willing to bet that almost everyone, at some point, has gone ahead and done or said something before the allotted or appropriate time.

We don’t like to wait.

I hate waiting.

When I know that something is going to happen, I want it to happen now.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchmen for the morning,
more than the watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6 (ESV)

I’m going to hazard a guess and say that the watchmen did a lot of waiting. A lot. If you’re the guy stuck walking the wall through the night, you’re going to be waiting for the morning. Every moment of the night.

That is how we should be waiting on the Lord. With keen anticipation. Every moment.

In our church, the worship team has noticed something about waiting. Some time ago, any lull in worship would have brought on an awkward silence and we’d have to push on to the next song as soon as possible so we wouldn’t “lose” the congregation. These days, there is an expectancy, a weight to the silence. We’re waiting. We’re hoping. And God is showing up in ways we never expected.

So in the waiting, be also expectant. It’s fine to hope for one thing to pass, but it’s what we do in the waiting that will affect the moment we’re waiting for.

Daily Bible reading:Psalm 128-131, 1 Corinthians 7:25-40