It was one of those mornings when nothing goes right, when there is grumbling and crying from a tired child, when the clock is ticking minutes down, when everything is a struggle.
Because sometimes life is a struggle.
After we endure the struggle, we look back at the mistakes, the things we could have done better, the ways we could have loved better.
Because Christ-followers still fall and fail.
Christ-adorers don’t always live with joy and gratefulness.
Christ-believers sometimes forget the words that pull us out of ugly days and thankless moments.
His promises are there, in His Word, but if you don’t know them, really know them, then it’s hard to live them.
You can’t live what you don’t know.
On this hard morning, I read his promise:
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. Hebrews 12:1
The promise is there in the first sentence: the great cloud of witnesses who surround us, who give us hope because we are not alone in this journey. They have struggled through their own bad mornings and weary nights and the doubts and fears and still kept their eyes on Jehovah.
Their stories show us that God does not leave us alone in our struggles, but gives us stories and people who show us the way to go, whose faith and trust are an example to our weary hearts.
But here’s the catch: After we are reminded of this cloud of witnesses, we are told to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles. “Throwing off” means laying something aside that is slowing us down. In Greek culture, runners would take off any unnecessary clothes that would slow them down in a race. Not only would this help the runner go faster, but help him to endure until the end.
In the same way, we are also called to take off (lay aside, throw off) anything that is slowing us down on this journey, whether our attitudes, our pride, our perfectionism, our lack of self control or bad habits. We are called to put these aside in order to run this race with perseverance, with freedom.
On mornings like these, we need to see the long view of life: it’s not about one morning, or one mistake, but it’s about getting up from our failures and persevering in this race as we run towards the real prize. Fully committed to him.
Running this race, let’s not let the things that entangle and hinder keep us from completing the marathon. We need to remember his promises in the morning light and let them revive our souls when we are weary.
We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses whose stories and faith can be the hand we need to pull us along when we feel like quitting.