|Author and blogger Tim Challies posted the above meme on his Facebook page on Monday.|
My boat was dragging bottom Sunday morning. I was tired from a breakneck schedule the week before, grieving a dear friend I lost a year ago (some days are just blue), carrying the weight of some heavy relationship issues, and on Day #2 of an almost migraine.
But somehow, the kids and I made it to church. This is the passage from which Deon preached:
"Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no 'root of bitterness' springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears." - Hebrews 12:12-17
I want to share a few of the points I jotted down from Deon's sermon:
"...lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees..." - The word your here is plural, referring to the community of believers. We are not meant to journey the Christian life alone. This passage is not saying: Camille needs to strengthen Camille's weak knees, and Bob needs to strengthen Bob's weak knees. Rather, I need to watch out for my fellow Christians and help them when they are struggling. Furthermore, I must not isolate myself from the community of believers, and I need to be open to and receptive of their counsel and assistance when I am struggling myself.
"...no root of bitterness..." - Watch out for bitterness within yourself and within the congregation. Bitterness occurs when, in hard circumstances, we stop believing in the goodness and kindness of God's providence. Again, we need community: we need to remind one another of the goodness and faithfulness of God.
But how are we to do the things we are exhorted to do in Hebrews 12:12-17? At the close of his sermon, Deon took us back to the verses just preceding this passage. The previous paragraph begins this way: "Consider him [Christ] who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted..." (Hebrews 12:3)
How are we to lift the drooping hands and strengthen the weak knees? By considering Christ. By pointing one another to Christ. By modeling Christ within the body.
Sunday afternoon, a dear friend called, and she basically let me cry and snot and vomit emotional weariness all over her for several minutes. And then - although she lives in a different city and had not heard Deon's sermon - she prayed for me. She prayed I would remember Jesus, the One who is always faithful, the one who never disappoints, the One who works all things - even the hard things - for my good and for his glory. She prayed that Jesus would strengthen me and that he would help me to persevere.
Monday morning I sat down to read. I flipped to the assigned passage for the day and I read in the first chapter of 2 Corinthians: "...for we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead..."
Note to self: God breaks me to teach me to rely on Him and not on myself. That is a good thing. (I have to be reminded of this over and over and over!)
And I read this in Psalm 73: "When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (verses 21-26)
Note to self: Even when I am feeling perfectly beastly, God holds my right hand. He is faithfully guiding me to Glory.
I can truly say with the Psalmist: my flesh and my heart may fail (like they did again just this past Sunday), but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
I can also truly say: I am thankful for Gospel friends who hold me close (even across the miles) and who remind me that Christ will hold me fast.