It’s a bit earlier than I planned to get up, but up I am. Thanks to one pain in the rear Labrador Retriever….and, I think, thanks to the Lord.
As I lay on the sofa trying to get my mind to stop moving so I could fall back to sleep, I decided maybe this was an answer to prayer. I’ve missed writing so much. Missed looking more deeply at my life…my thoughts….my Savior.
It’s been a whirlwind lately. Although, I can’t think of an extended amount of time that it’s been anything but a whirlwind…and I guess to some extent I’m okay with that…for a little bit.
I’m kinda tired right now. Sick and tired. No, actually sick. Strep throat. Can’t kick it. Probably a key factor is a significant lack of sleep. My mom is concerned I’m going to have a heart attack. I’m just worried I’m going to pass out.
Right now, 2 hours before my alarm will sound, I feel quite good (except of course the sandpaper that is my throat.)
So this dark and early morning…what does God want me to learn about Him?
Lately I’ve been studying Hebrews…one of my favorite books.
I have a new Bible and nothing is underlined…I feel like everything is new. It is funny, but part of me is embarrassed by my perfect new Bible without anything written in it…looks like I don’t study it. I believe that’s called pride. Ugh. The other part of me loves that it’s a new start…a chance to look at things in a new way.
I’ve been studying faith. It’s made me think about my own faith…how sometimes I have such great confidence and other times I make choices that prove I don’t. I live my life in fear…fear of what? You know, I don’t know that I can even answer that question, really. I mean, what do I fear? Nothing…and maybe everything.
That lovely verse, “Perfect love casts out fear” comes to mind. God loves me perfectly there is no need to fear…anything.
I’m twisted in knots.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19-23
How do I hold unswervingly to hope?
What does that look like? Practically speaking.
I love the words God uses to encourage us, but often I’m unsure of what it looks like as I’m dealing with my children, my students, my friends, my family, myself.
What does holding hope look like?
I think maybe the answer is in some of the verses that follow those:
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:36-39
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
It’s easy for me to look at those verses and see the do’s and don’ts…but I think, at least for me, what God is showing me…again…that it isn’t about ME.
What God is revealing to me is that it isn’t about what I do or don’t do, it’s about Him.
Both of those passages begin with imperatives…”Do not throw away your confidence” and “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and “run with perseverance” and “fix our eyes on Jesus.”
The key is that last one…
I’ve tried to be confident in many things…without fixing my eyes on Jesus. I either stumble from pride or fear.
I’ve tried to throw off things that cause me to stumble and sin…without fixing my eyes on Jesus. I can only walk forward a few steps before I find myself stumbling and falling yet again.
I’ve tried to run with perseverance…to live hopefully and faithfully and graciously…without fixing my eyes on Jesus. I fail at it every time. Every. Time.
I’m unable to be the woman I was made to be without fixing my eyes on Jesus.
I just can’t seem to do it.
Holding unswervingly to hope seems very similar to fixing my eyes on Jesus.
When things get wonky in my world (which they are A LOT), do I choose to have hope?
Maybe I’m looking too much for the seven steps to holding onto hope…when maybe there is just one.
- Choose hope.
I know that sounds trite…maybe a little naïve on my part. But believe me, I am not naïve of the difficulties of life. Been there, done that.
So much of survival…of thriving survival…is where I focus. Choosing to take my thoughts captive to Christ.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
On what am I focusing?
Lately, if I’m honest, it’s how difficult this place God has me in…this place that is decidedly lacking in joy and grace.
And instead of choosing to bring the joy and grace to the situation, I’ve chosen to focus on the difficulties and what’s lacking. Ugh.
I can see it in my children. They are beginning to show the signs of strain…the joylessness of a life that doesn’t look for the things to be grateful for in the midst of difficulties.
I’ve not modeled well.
It’s a war for hope.
It’s a battle to choose hope over heartache. But IT CAN BE DONE!
God wouldn’t tell us to hold unswervingly to hope if it wasn’t possible.
On the darkest days of my life, there was always hope. Sometimes those days seem easier than these…these days of hectic, harried, stressful busyness. These days of just wishing I could be still for a minute. Still and quiet.
But I am! Right now. I’m probably gonna be a bit tired later, but how very worth it! How very much I’ve enjoyed this quiet time with my Bible and laptop open.
The focus on those darkest days was Jesus. I didn’t have anything else to cling to…no person beside me, no inner strength reserve, no wisdom, no powerful perspective, no provisions, no nothing…all I had was Jesus.
Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith…Jesus, my shepherd.
The complexity of who Jesus is in my life strikes me right now…He creates, sustains, strengthens, and guides my faith…He is my hope.
So if I’m fixing my eyes on Him…I have hope.
I have hope that I can indeed walk on the water while waves crash, thunder echoes, and lightening crashes…just like Peter did.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Be when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:29-30
I have hope that I can endure the challenges of life…just like Paul did.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
I have hope that I am forgiven…again…just like, well, everyone.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
I have hope that God has a plan for my life…and my future is secure.
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18
Will you fix your eyes on Jesus with me? Will you hold unswervingly to hope…even when everything seems a bit hopeless?
I’m going to pray that we can do it. That God will enable each of us to hold firmly to hope…to focus intentionally and intently on Jesus.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.