Our Women’s Retreat theme for 2019 is Enduring. It seems like things no longer last as long as they should. But God’s Word, promises, and character are unchanging. They have endured the tests of time, war, and technology.
In response to God’s enduring faithfulness, we too are called to endure.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].
Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3, AMP
I love to take Olive walking in the woods. She’s quite the diva but she stinkin’ loves running around in the woods. It’s good for me too--trees and soil and open sky. One of our favorite places is the Walter-Newton Conservation Area in Plymouth and on weekdays, usually my day-off days, it’s ultra quiet. (This is a little bit weird and vulnerable, but I have a blog that I try to update regularly and wrote about this experience a few weeks ago.)
Several weeks ago, we went walking in the wintery woods. I was frustrated with the grip on my boots, with my cold nose, with the fact that this loop was taking me so much longer to walk than it normally does. I was shuffling impatiently when I heard God whisper, “This pace is right for this season.”
Seasons come with different paces and it’s for our own good. While summer allows us to move at one pace, winter requires another. Some seasons bring crisp leaves, others bring ice. Some allow for running free, others require walking cautiously.
Seasons are like races, an image we see used frequently in Scripture. Races require different paces. In a marathon, each mile, each stride, may require a different pace--some are straightaways, some are hills. So much of learning to endure is learning and adhering to proper paces.
In order to set the pace, we need to be aware. The author of Hebrews calls us to strip off every unnecessary weight (verse 1) so that we can run with endurance. In order to strip them off, we need to know what they are. We need to identify the layers, sins, false-self patterns that need shedding. This is a continual process, not a one-time deal. We must be constantly evaluating: what is holding me back, holding me in? When we’re dressed properly for the race, for the season, we’re able to be focused on that which actually matters: moving forward.
Not only do we need to be aware, we need to be looking forward--[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus (verse 2). Our eyes have a tendency to wander and that can make the race dangerous. When we’re stuck looking behind us, we miss what’s ahead. We can’t be sure if there’s a hill coming up or if the finish line is in the distance.
So, what kind of a season are you in? What kind of pace is required for the season? Is there anything that needs stripping off? (Not clothes. Get your mind out of the gutter, Rachel.) Is there anything that you need to stop looking back at?