“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.” (Hebrews 12:1)
In my last post, “Left Behind”, I introduced the subject of the remnant. In the natural realm it reflects a reduction in size while in the spiritual realm, the remnant and its companion of pruning, is unto enlargement, not however without testing. The ability to endure, to not grow weary, is a key to being fruitful in the kingdom; to stay steady when our natural senses are in negative reaction.
To overcome weariness we must face and conquer the following three foes:
Isolation: we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” These include the transcendent “church of the firstborn” (12:23) as well as our fellow pilgrims, those with whom we walk in present community. Herein is the key: stay surrounded – be intentional to be in community.
Weights: these are not necessarily sinful but they hinder personal growth. A word picture I like is that of wearing construction type work books, heavy and bulky, to run the fifty yard dash. They are not illegal, but they will weigh you down for sure. In my experience, most of these come from two areas: lifestyle choices and brokenness.
Lifestyle choices containing very little spiritual sacrifice, that heavily lean towards recreation, hobbies, etc… may not be a transgression against God, but they can slow the pace of spiritual growth to where the enemy gains a leverage against you, and hence it can weigh you down.
Brokenness in my understanding, are the wounds we’ve sustained along the way, especially from our childhood. While containing threads of sin, it is predominantly untilled ground, filled with seeds of falsehood, which inhibit our reception of truth.
The wonderful promises of rebuilding the ruins, found in Ezekiel chapter 36, include this one: The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate…so they will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden.” (verses 34-35). Surrender of this heart ground to the Fathers’ plow will require the support of community, namely because we’ve worked hard to protect ourselves from facing the pain of our brokenness.
Sin: Being accountable in community, as well as lightening the load of desolation and brokenness, will strengthen us in our fight again sin, which has a “clinging” effect from habitual practice. We cannot win the victory in subjective aloneness or heavily laden with weights.
Weariness will take its’ toll on the heart. It leads to discouragement and eventual resistance to God’s training (discipline). We wonder: “Is it really worth it? After all, nothing is changing.”
The remnant however, will find a way to tap into the grace of God. Otherwise, a greater trouble lies ahead: the root of bitterness.
(To be continued)