Trying to stay focused
As I started to reflect on Heb 12:1-2 this morning, I was thinking about the great cloud of witnesses that the writer mentions–must be referring to those in Heb 11 and specifically to those in 11:39-40 who “though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” I understand even though I find it difficult they could be commended for their faith even though they did not received what was promised. But, how do they relate to us today? “Apart from us they should not be made perfect?” What gives there? That they eventually received the promise of their faith is not in doubt for me. The reward is coming–for some, they get to see it today but for others, it yet remains.
So, then I came to Heb 12 and the challenge to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Words that come to mind–don’t give up! Be faithful. And a parallel passage, Gal. 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” I need to stay focused on what God has placed before me this day. I am not responsible to run anyone else’s race, only my own. And of late, staying focused on my personal race has been hard enough! I may not receive the promise now but I need not be concerned about that.
Two things to help me stay focused in the race–laying aside every weight and the sin which so closely clings to us and looking to Jesus. In looking up the word weight or ogknon, the first definition is impediment. Lay aside whatever is keeping me from running and completing the race. Then looking up euperistaton, the adjective modifying sin, the first definition is easily distracting. Sin that is easily distracting–that I can understand.
So, in order to stay in the race (hupomene–endurance requires extensive reflection on its own!) I need to lay aside whatever impediments are in my way and easily distracting sins and second, keep focused on Jesus.
Where I end up this morning is the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” I made a post about this last year if you want to read more. But, basically I will be praying this prayer throughout the day. That is about all I can do today to stay focused.
“Heb. 12:1 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, Heb. 12:2 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.”