These days I move under the weight of information—of stories of injustice, fearful visions of societal doom, and accounts of addiction—and this just from my Facebook news feed.
I wrestle too with the information of self-awareness. God continues to prune and strip away buffers I’ve cultivated over a lifetime—even really good things like community and relationship have been in reduction mode here in the Arizona heat. The desert does not offer many places to hide. In this bare landscape under the bright sun, God reveals my choices. There are only two: choose him or do not choose him.
God’s word is full of stories of human struggle, failure, and faithfulness.
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. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
These words from the book of Hebrews encourage me as follows:
- We may feel alone, but we are not alone in our struggle. We are “surrounded” by those who have remained faithful (Heb. 11). They line the course, cheering on those of us still in the race.
- The struggle to persevere in the face of injustice, pain, and sin is real. Every weight and sin threatens to smother us and suck the hope of God’s mercy and justice out of us. We are required to act, to “lay aside” the things that sidetrack us in fruitlessness.
- Life is not a sprint. It requires steady pacing. The early years of life are fast and focused on each next benchmark. Around mid-life, the terrain gets a bit more tedious, and the prospect of running the rest of the race can seem daunting. We are told to look to Jesus, to take our eyes off of the peddler of fear and death and fix them on the One who has overcome.
- Our faith hangs on the One who endured under the weight of the world’s sin. He bore it all on the cross — all the injustice, evil, failure, and deceitfulness of the world. He did not break or give up. He held steady to God’s goodness. His life-embrace frees us from the death-embrace of this world.
Earlier this evening I had the chorus to Bill Gaither’s song “Because He Lives” running through my head. I will end here:
Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives.