We are five days into the New Year, five days into our resolutions, our new goals we have set for ourselves, five days into new diets, and whatever it is that you believe God wanted you to focus on this upcoming year. How many of us have already taken a step back, maybe picked up that piece of chocolate cake instead of that salad? How many of us have already slacked off on one of our many goals or desires for 2015? I have- I admit it, I am not going to pretend and say that I am doing everything that God wants me to do all the time, because let’s face it- only Jesus was ever that obedient! But I have not exactly been following the steps He has laid before me either.
Over the next few weeks I will be having a lot of alone time on my hands. Things have worked out to where I will be spending days being by myself. I have been looking forward to this time very eagerly, since I first learned about it. It has been an eagerly awaited sabbatical so to speak! Having a few minutes alone everyday is something that I find challenging. I have the morning hours, but usually my phone rings, my husband needs something, someone texts me for something, so very rarely do I get any significant amount of time to be alone. (I like to be alone- it is one of those weird little quirks about me that make me so unique in my Father’s eyes!)
During this alone time, however, I look forward to spending time with my Lord and Savior. I look forward to the hours of study, prayer and just being in His presence uninterrupted. But, something got in my way yesterday. Yesterday was the day that these next few weeks were going to kick off. I was going to be all by myself for hours, upon hours. But what did I find myself doing? It wasn’t what I had hoped I would be doing, that is for certain! Instead, I did exactly nothing. I sat on my buttocks, ate cookies and watched movies for the whole day. Now, I am not saying that there is nothing wrong with taking a day of rest. Having a busy schedule as most of us women do, some days we just need to relax and chill. But, there were these moments where I could sense that tugging in my heart to put that cookie down and come away to be with Him. I could sense that tugging at my heart to shut off the Hallmark Channel, and just come sit with Him. But, I didn’t.
In one of my blogs a few days ago, I wrote about how the Lord is speaking to me about being committed to what it is He has called me to do. (Blog post- Committed to 2015). I won’t bore you and recap that blog post, if you have time and feel so led, please feel free to go and read it on your own time. Yesterday was one of those days that He was asking me to commit to Him. He was asking me to lay aside my wants and my desires and just come and be with Him. But, apparently the cookies were more appealing, because that is where I stayed. This morning however, as I found myself in the quiet sanctuary of aloneness, I opened my bible and began to open my heart to the words He wanted me to hear. Truth be told, I was sad in my heart; sad that I had wasted another opportunity to spend time with Him and to focus on the areas of my life that He so wants to work in. I was sad that I hadn’t been obedient and had once again chosen my own way. But then He spoke a word to me, a word that reminded me that no matter how many times I fall, I can always get back up again.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1
Endurance, I have need of endurance. Endurance is the ability to persevere in the face of trials, tribulations, sorrows, or whatever obstacles may get in our way. We are called to endure. We are called to endure through suffering, through persecutions, and every day we are in need of endurance to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Jesus Christ. But I asked the Lord, what is it that hinders me? The writer of Hebrews tells us that we are to lay aside all the things that hinder us, (or ensnares us, depending on which translation you are reading). What hinders me? Then it hit me, I am my own worst enemy. I can blame the world, the sin, and the devil for all the bad things that happen to me, but in the end, I am my own worst enemy. My love of self is what hinders me every single time. My own lack of motivation to do and to be committed to the Lord and His work in me is what hinders this race I am to be running.
The word hinder was a word that the Greeks would have understood as meaning excessive weight. It was a term used to describe an athlete who was in training, working at getting off the extra weight that kept him from running faster. It was also used to describe a burden, like too many clothes. I mean, let’s face it, not many of us are going to go running with heavy steel toed shoes and five layers of clothing! Most runners use light weight clothing to help them run better and more efficient. They lay aside anything that will hinder them, and keep pressing forward.
What is hindering me today is my own desire to do what self wants to do. I can make any and every excuse in the book to explain away and justify my choices to sit and eat cookies yesterday, but in the end, there is no excuse. I chose to sit there in my own selfishness and do what I wanted to do. I chose to be committed to my cookies more than to my God. That is why my heart was so sad this morning, because here I am, five days into a New Year and already I am uncommitted.
But the Lord reminded me of one simple truth, and it came through the lyrics of a song by Toby Mac. “It’s never too late to get back up again, you may be knocked down but you’re not out forever.” ("Get Back Up" is track #5 on the album “Tonight”. It was written by Moore, James L. / Rice, Aaron Charles / Mckeehan, Toby / Barlowe, Cary Ryan). This is where the endurance we all have need of comes in and takes over. Endurance is the ability to get back up, no matter how knocked down you feel, no matter how far you have fallen. You get back up because you know and believe that your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is right there, holding out His hand to help you get back up and stand in His strength once again.
I give up too easily, I know I do. But to be able to live a committed life, to be able to endure in this walk of faith, I have to know and understand that no matter how far I fall, no matter how many times I get knocked down, He is always, always faithful to help me get back up again. “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward, for you have need of endurance,” (Hebrews 10:35) We can be confident that our God knows our hearts, He knows that we are going to fall, and that we are going to need His strength and His ability to get back up again. It is never too late to get back up again, so don’t let yesterday’s fall defeat you into believing you can’t ever recover. There is no fall so great that our God can’t pick us up and set our feet upon the right path again.
I may have chosen self over Him yesterday, but that doesn’t have to be repeated today. I can reach out, grab His outstretched hand and let Him get me back up again. His mercy is new today, His faithfulness is ours to grasp. All we need is a little endurance to keep getting up, no matter how many times we fall. If you have fallen like me, I pray today that you will reach out and take His hand and get back up again. It is never too late to start over with Jesus, all we need is a little endurance. Amen.