Friday, April 18, 2014


I've been discouraged for years, hanging on like an unpopular Survivor contestant at an immunity challenge, knowing that if I don't win, I'm going to be voted off the island. My endurance has not been a hopeful endurance but more of a resigned, what else can I do - kind of endurance. It is the endurance of a soldier hunkered down in a foxhole while machine gun bullets fill the air overhead, the kind of endurance one has while waiting for the doctor to stage the cancer that you know is there.

Today I reread Hebrews 12:1-2 for the 359th time (I'm not really counting), and I saw something I didn't see before - a 4 letter word. Do you see it?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Heb 12:1,2

let us also lay aside

My first reaction was "oh no, did I miss something? Is there something more I need to do? Isn't laying aside weight and the closely clinging sin enough? What else Lord?" As I read and reread the passage it dawned on me that the "also" was not referring to actions I need to take but to people I needed to emulate. "Also" refers to the phrase before not to what comes after (though it does that too, you need a noun & a verb, right?). What I am trying to say so poorly is the great cloud of witnesses laid aside weights, put away sin, and ran with endurance the race before them. Not all of them ran that well (David and Samson are in the list of heroes, and they lived soap opera lives for a time) but they finished and made it into the hall of faith. They finished and I can ALSO finish.

"Also" means I can ALSO do this. I can ALSO finish my race well. I can ALSO be cited as someone to look up and emulate. (That is really hard for me to believe right now, and writing it down is an act of faith.) And if I can, then you can ALSO do this.

"Also" gives me hope. I don't want to run the rest of race feeling disqualified and discouraged. Jesus, because of the "joy" set before him, endured the cross. "Consider him" we are told. I want to run like the heroes of Heb 11. I want to run like Jesus. I can't run perfect like Jesus. I've already fallen way behind the pack. But just finishing is not enough anymore. I want to finish with joy. I want to believe that there is an incredible, fantastic, awesome reward at the end of the race for everyone who finishes, including me. No more waiting to be voted off the island. It's not going to happen. There is joy awaiting and I'm going to run to it.

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