Keeping Our Focus on Jesus (Part 1)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down…” (Hebrews 12:1a NLT)

The writer of the Hebrew letter opens chapter twelve with a reference to the “huge crowd of witnesses” that have run the race of faith before us. We are surrounded by the effects of their influence as we train and run our race. With desire to be the best we can possibly be, we are encouraged to: “…strip off every weight that slows us down…”  What are the weights that slow you down?

Have you ever run in or watched a Marathon? My daughter has run in a few, and while I’ve seen some funny things that runners wear, I’ve yet to see anyone run a Marathon in a snow suit. Why not? The weight, if for no other reason. Distractions, regardless of their cause, are like extra weight for a runner, that at best will slow us down, and, at worst, disqualify or disable us from finishing.

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As we think of our “faith” race, what are some common “weights” (distractions) that hinder us?

Age and/or physical condition can be factors. How so? I’m 74, so I tend to run out of energy more quickly. I find my mind will wander if I’m not well rested and it takes me longer to accomplish even the things I enjoy, such as reading and studying the Bible, praying or writing. When I was younger, I often found other things more pressing, believing I’d get to my reading/studying later. Later rarely came. It can be very helpful over time to find a place you consistently go to read, study, pray, and meditate. The familiarity of that setting (room, chair, desk, nature) can automatically turn your thoughts to God.

Realizing as a husband/wife, parent, employee, etc., there are going to be legitimate time constraints over which you have little or no control. Setting a certain time to meet with the Lord can be especially challenging for parents of small children or for those who are working odd hours. It takes creativity and lots of desire, but it’s possible and will pay rich dividends over time.

When I was first in ministry someone told me: “God gives us all the time we need to accomplish the complete will of God if we use our time efficiently.” Life, in all its mess, is ministry waiting to happen. Nothing can prevent you from praying, singing, reciting scripture, even if those things need to be done only in your mind. When I walk my pups, work around the house, do projects in the garage, whatever I’m doing, I’m talking with the Lord.

I’m reminded of the book by Charles Hummel, The Tyranny of the Urgent. We allow things that are relatively insignificant, yet urgent, to overshadow what deserves to be a priority.

The point is, if we want to keep the Lord in view, the Lord will enable us to find a way. Will it take discipline? Of course! Will it take time? Definitely! Is it worth making the effort? Without a doubt!

Notice the things to this point aren’t deliberate efforts on our part to not do what the Lord wants for us. They aren’t sin. Sin separates us from God. We’ll look at this tomorrow.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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