We are surrounded by witnesses. The idea here is not of a great Olympic moment with grandstands and spectators but rather a host of individuals who can bear witness to the practice of a life of faith.
Imagine them standing one by one to tell their stories—Gideon, Rahab, Samuel, David, and Jesus. Each story is an authentic witness to the risks and rewards of believing God. Jesus himself is the pioneer witness who entered our human experience in a way never done before. He is the perfect witness who always trusted the mission he was sent to perform with an eye on the joyful outcome.
Hebrews 11 ends with these witnesses awaiting the promised “something better.” Chapter 12 begins with Jesus’ anticipating a “joy before him.” The life of faith is in anticipation of a much better day to come.
Between the hopeful future and the present challenge is our race. Our challenge is to throw off the things that hinder and entangle us. In human terms these are things that divert our attention—challenging setbacks or the temptation to quit. Anything that draws our attention away from Jesus and the path he has made before us must be jettisoned in favor of finishing the race.
Our race is just that—ours. No one can throw off these things for us. We must do that work ourselves. No one can provide persistence for us. We must do that work too. Jesus has cut the path for us in his life, death, and resurrection. It’s our turn now.
Today, Lord Jesus, I see you with fresh eyes. What a persistent race you ran for the sake of the kingdom! Help me to follow you more closely and to release lesser things. Amen.
Isaiah compares the people of Israel to a vineyard that God has planted. However, the grapes that grow there have become wild. There is no justice, no right living in the vineyard, so God is considering letting it be destroyed. The psalmist uses the same metaphor to bemoan the state of God’s people. The vineyard has been overrun, burned, and cut down. The psalmist appeals to God to restore the vineyard. The author of Hebrews presents many more examples of people of faith in past times. All these exemplars now surround us and cheer us on in our life of faith. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus cautions that following the gospel requires full commitment. For some, this will mean tension in relationships, even within families. Following Jesus is not a commitment of convenience.
Read Isaiah 5:1-7. Recall a time when you lovingly prepared a place. What would prompt you to destroy it?
Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How has God restored you when you have been at your most vulnerable?
Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Who makes up your personal Faith Hall of Fame? How does each person cheer you on in your spiritual journey?
Read Luke 12:49-56. What does it mean for your life of faith for Jesus to have come to bring division?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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