I really wish I could say that I've been paying more attention to all that God's been saying to me this month. But I've found myself diving right back into the busyness that characterized me before surgery. I think I've finally realized how mindless much of my busyness is. I've found myself questioning why I'm doing things - what is my intention for involving myself in something else?
I hit my breaking point on the way to work yesterday. I've been getting less and less sleep, and had entirely too many scary things finally getting resolved this week on my plate. I was about to put on the playlist for the songs I'm supposed to be playing this weekend at church, and felt the Holy Spirit moving me to put on a sermon again. This month it's been really hard for me to have the energy to get to church, and I've been sorely missing being fed.
The message really hit home - it was Will Pavone at McLean Bible Church speaking on Hebrews 12:1. "Do you ever get weary in living the Christian life? Do you ever just feel worn out and weary? Many of the folks to whom the book of Hebrews was written, they were growing weary. As a matter of fact, they were exhausted; their fatigue was a fatigue of faith. You see they were tired of the struggles of living the Christian life every day." I'm not usually one to talk aloud to a podcast while I'm alone in my car.. but I found myself shouting at Will Pavone while I was stuck in 2 hours of traffic that morning.
Will continues onto Hebrews 12:1..
"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."
Therefore.. what's that there for? It refers to the preceding chapter 11, where it goes over the 'giants of faith' from the old testament. Each of their stories is begun by 'by faith', and serves as examples to us how we should be running our race. This by faith preface really is implied in each of the exhortations in 12:1. We must by faith throw off our weights that slow us down, by faith throw off our sins that throw us down, and by faith run our race with perseverance and fixed focus.
It was on the weights that I really started to breakdown. These weights become unhealthy hindrances and we focus on them instead of time with our Father. Immediately, I felt like I knew what my weights were. I was sitting in it. I was sitting in my stupid car, in stupid traffic, continuing to rack up miles, wasting my precious energy and time just to get to work. And why was I working? Just so I could pay for the car and the stupid traffic tickets! But how do I commute less? Live closer, but you can't afford that! It took me the whole day to begin to recover. On top of everything going on with my health, I can't even sleep, I'm broke, and I feel all this shame and guilt because I've got all these things I'm supposed to do, but don't have the energy or time or focus for. I busy myself almost mindlessly, often out of obligation but usually without intent. I felt so broken, and so weary.
I've come to the conclusion that living this Christian life is like a fish trying to swim upstream. We're already swimming against the current, but then there are hooks everywhere that we can't possibly avoid. As we swim these hooks bite in deeper. They pull us in separate directions, and we literally feel like we're going to be torn apart. We've already ceased to be able to swim against the current, and now it, along with hooks, pull us back and drags us down. We're struggling violently to get the hooks out and they only bite in harder. We can't possibly get the hooks out ourselves. Then comes God - or was He there all along? - and He holds us, grips us firmly. He's waiting for us to stop struggling in His grip. At some point we realize we're not only trying to throw off the hooks, but we're trying to throw off Him, because this struggling has made us weary. We are weary because we are trying to rely on our own power instead of completely by faith in God.
Only when we stop struggling, only when we completely submit to being held in His hands and not by our own power will we get sweet, sweet relief. It makes no sense to be still..if we stop struggling, it feels like we'll absolutely be pulled down, continue sinking. Unless you have faith that One stronger than yourself can take care of the hooks. He's waiting patiently, with you encircled in His hands and arms to stop struggling, to stop trying to fight alone and take care of things yourself. Only once you're finally still, finally submit to His will can he tenderly remove the hooks that have entrapped you. And the tender, strong hands of God are more than capable and very willing to mercifully, lovingly remove the hooks and perform what may be necessary surgery to cut them away.
Are we really willing to give ourselves over to the Hands of God to carry us? Hebrews 12 continues on: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him 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 sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Do I really have the humility to put the Glory of God before my own pain and needs? I think I must find it. If I am to stop struggling against my hooks, my weights, against God's glory, love, and power itself, then I must do two things: admit that God's glory is beyond the scope of my wildest imagination and submit humbly to it.
I realize now that I've been praying for answers to my hooks. I prayed for whatever change was necessary to take them out, and yet when the change comes I still struggle against it. Again, finding myself unwilling to submit to His will and His power and His love. And yet, He's constantly reminding me of His hands around me, placing people in my life that continue to lift me up out of the waters and away from the hooks.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18