I kind of want to just pick up where we left off yesterday. Sound good? Consider this the continuation of “When faith asks too much.” The end of that sentence—“Don’t give up.”
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to have a Bible study with some of my closest girlfriends. These women are the female half of our life group that meets weekly, and we decided to just have a girls’ night for Bible study this time, with the added bonus of all the cute little babies that they have. We got together in my living room, snacked on some yummy and healthy eats, and dove head first into Hebrews 12:1-2. And our conversation was riveting. We shared our struggles, we reflected back on times when we felt ever so close to God and celebrated those times, we prayed for each other, we cried, and we laughed. It was excellent. Even the hard was so good. Read it for yourself:
“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, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
There it is in the NLT, the text for our time together. As we unpacked each verse, we answered three questions. First, “what keeps your eyes on Jesus?” Since we’re given the phrase “keeping our eyes on Jesus” in verse two, we figured it was a fairly important issue to address. How do we maintain a Christ-centered focus in a world that is focused on anything and everything but Him? What keeps our gaze on His face and off our problems? How would YOU answer this question?
Next, we moved to this question: “What takes your eyes away from Jesus?” We don’t even have to try anymore to get caught up in the world. Temptation lurks around every corner trying to ensnare us…time spent on Facebook instead of in God’s Word, an obsession with reality TV shows instead of being present with our families and developing “real” relationships with our neighbors, lust and perversity instead of purity and holiness. I mean, for real, when didn’t it take a conscious effort on our part to keep our eyes on Christ? And therein lies the problem. We’ve stopped trying. We’ve stopped prioritizing Him. We’ve stopped starving the flesh in order to feed the spirit. How would YOU answer that question? “What takes your eyes away from Jesus?”
Finally, we settled in on verse three—“then you won’t become weary and give up.” And we hurt on this one. We cried. We ached and asked God, “Why?” Because life is hard. Because we are tired. Because our strength has failed us, and it is hard to raise that shield of faith when our faith has worn thin. And there are days when the temptation to give up is fierce. So, we answered the question, “What, right now, is making you weary and tempting you to give up?” And how would YOU answer that question?
Here’s the beauty, though. We didn’t end there. I told you we discussed our answers to three questions, but after sharing our hearts on question #3, we ran right back to our focus. What are we looking at? Our circumstances or the face of Jesus? Because when all we do is focus on our problems, our problems become pretty big and our God becomes really small.
The strength you and I need to raise that shield of faith back up high in the air is not found within ourselves. It’s found in Christ alone. So, we turn back to Him when our gaze has drifted from His face. We run back to Him when our feet have wandered from His pastures. We lean into Him when we’ve exhausted ourselves from pursuing everything else. And we don’t give up. We don’t quit. We don’t stop now. Because Heaven is but a breath away. Hold on, friends. Stretch our your arms and reach for the edge of His garment. Just a touch is all you need to heal. Don’t give up. Press on.