You Can Do It!
New Creation Project
We don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews, or to whom it was written. But whoever it was first read this letter, by whomever it was that writ it, we recognize ourselves as its audience. For, like its first readers, we are often uncertain of our footing, unsure of where we fit in the world, and unclear about what to do next.
Life was hard for first century Christians. They lived in a culture that did not respect their beliefs or their lifestyle. As a result, sometimes they wondered whether or not they were on the right path.
In response to this, the writer of Hebrews tries to help them see the beauty and integrity of their faith. In particular, he focuses on the person of Jesus. He stresses that Jesus is superior to the angels (ch 1), superior to Moses and the Law (ch 3), superior to the priesthood (5-8), and to its sacrifices (9-10).
No matter how difficult things might get, he says, Jesus is God’s final answer to life’s most pressing and fundamental questions. No other religious/irreligious system even comes close. Following Jesus, therefore, is worth all the sacrifices they have to make.
In light of this, he intersperses several strong words of encouragement: Don’t drift (ch 2); Don’t disbelieve (3-4); Don’t despair (6) – all of which lead to a stirring climax: Don’t Give Up! (11-12). We might summarize the final challenge like this:
“The Christian life is a marathon. Many have run this race before you. They are cheering for you at the finish line. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He did not give up on you. He completed the race and he is waiting for you, too. Keep on running!”
I am currently training for a 207-mile bicycle ride to Rocky Point. Its purpose is to raise awareness and funds to build homes for impoverished people in Mexico. (Yes, you may contribute to this if you like: Bikes Fight Poverty-Church at the Chip.)
Riding to Rocky Point is daunting prospect, one for which I’m not sure I’m prepared. Until recently, I was merely a recreational rider, simply trying to arrest the inevitable onslaught of an aging metabolism. The idea of riding 200 miles in two days never occurred to me until last fall when I learned about this ride and its mission.
Now that I have a clear goal, however, riding has become more purposeful, and more important. I don’t want to embarrass myself. I want to successfully complete the race. I want to help people who live in shanties experience the pride and safety of home ownership. In order to accomplish this, I must train today in order to be prepared for tomorrow’s challenge.
At times during my training, the daunting distance or inclement weather causes me to question my resolve. In particular, a difficult headwind can make a moderate incline seem insuperable. If I focus on the elements, I find myself discouraged, and the miles interminable. But if I keep my eyes fixed on my intermediate and ultimate goals (finishing the day’s training; completing the long ride), I find that, rather than defeating me, the wind strengthens me. I recall the cyclists adage:
“Sometimes the wind makes you faster, sometimes the wind makes you stronger.”
The writer of Hebrews understood this. He knew that if his readers remembered the importance of their race and the glory of their goal, they would overcome their discouragement and “run with endurance the race set before [them]” (Hebrews 12:1).
Wherever you are in your own race, whatever challenges you have to face, may God grant to you that same grace. Along with the many who’ve run the race before you, together with those who run alongside you — and especially in the company of the One who ran the Ultimate Race for you — I add my voice to the thousands who are cheering you on. You can do it!
And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to practice what I’m preaching. If you see me on the road, give me a wave!