This morning the Lord pointed out the word “also” in Hebrews 12:1. Also. It’s so easy to read over it, to fly passed the word without considering its value among the other words. We need to chew on them awhile. To linger over their meaning. To allow the Spirit to expand on their significance.
“Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us ALSO strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us ALSO run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Amplified]
Also… As they walked by faith they had to strip off and throw aside every encumbrance to run the race set before them… Abraham threw off his comfortable surroundings and family connections in Ur and went out not knowing where he was going. He had to throw off encumbrances and sins in order to take steps that God was asking him to take. He threw off idol worship, unbelief and human logic. Sarah had to cast off doubt and unbelief and manipulation. Moses threw off insecurity and ambition and the approval of man… Joseph threw off self-pity and impatience… All of them stripped off their will and embraced the will of God. They didn’t do it perfectly–their mistakes are also vividly described for all to see–but they pressed on and were persistent in the race set before them and they finished the race in flying colors of glory! They crossed the finish line. They made it home rejoicing in God!
Also… Absolutely none of them knew in advance the course their race would take. Moses had some inkling of his future role of leadership when he killed the Egyptian soldier, but it didn’t come to fruition until God called him out of obscurity and shame. And think again about Joseph. When he shared his dream with his brothers, he probably thought the fulfillment of the dream was just around the corner. The only thing around the corner for Joseph was betrayal and suffering. Imagine the shock and disappointment and discouragement–all of which he had to throw aside. If Joseph had carried all that weight with him on the race, would he have been able to carry out the unfolding of the dream? Would he have embraced his brothers? He threw off every entanglement and weight so as to run the race set before him.
Also… In the most dramatic way, their testimony elicits our response. Today. Right this very minute. Are they not serving as divine solicitors who come knocking on the door of our heart–giving testimony to God’s faithfulness. All of them, by their testimony, are saying to us, “Just as I laid aside my will and ran unencumbered, following after Yahweh, you too are called to do the same. So run! Run unencumbered. Throw off anything that hinders you and run the race set before you–fixing your eyes on Jesus! He knows the way…”
Also… None of us can fully anticipate what we will be throwing aside. Nor do any of us know where God has to take us so we can clearly see what it is we need to strip off. Far too often we make the mistake of assuming our life will be just a straight line in the same wonderful direction. Complacency is a great encumbrance. Complacency is where our will builds a nest and our will roosts and settles upon it. A home perfectly designed for our flesh. And so God brings a cold, north wind and knocks us right out of our orderly, quaint little nest and blows the living daylights out of it…..so that we will get back in the race and run, or fly as the case may be. That’s the grace and the mercy of God to catapult us out of our comfortableness and complacency, because both are incredibly numbing to the call of God. Nothing dulls us more than settling.
All this reminds me again of Lilias Trotter’s words…”It is an older faith that learns to swing out into nothingness and drop down full weight on God–the broken-up nest of former ‘experiences’ left behind–nothing between us and the abyss but God Himself.”
And why do we fix our eyes on Jesus? Because He writes our faith! He shapes our faith with His glory in view! He leads us along paths of righteousness, for His Name sake, by faith. Brilliant truth. It reminds me of a song by Fernando Ortega, If I Flee On Morning Wings,
If to heaven’s heights I fly, You are still beside me,
Or in death dark shadows lie, You will stay close by me.
If I flee on morning wings, far across the gray sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me, Your right hand will guide me.
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