Thursday, July 25, 2013

Put It Down

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that has been set before us.” (Hebrew 12:1)

After a heavy workout, I feel like collapsing. Though the ground feels nice as I gush sweat like a lawn sprinkler, that pile is really not the best position in which to be. One needs be upright. So I walk around with my hands on my head, filling my lungs with air.

I’m running much faster now that some of this weight is coming off. I started at 252 by walking for 15 minutes. Then 15 minutes became 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45 minutes. Then my body whispered “faster.” So I went faster. And the weight is coming off. With faster comes stronger and the end of the workout is full of accomplishment.

The encumbrance, the weight must come off in order to run with endurance. Jesus said the thorns that choke are world-worries, things that do not matter eternally, desires for other things. These enter in and cause unfruitfulness by cutting off the life-line (Mark 4:17). No production because there is no life. These are things that need to be laid aside.

We often hear the example of “girding up the loins,” but this carries more the idea of “stop carrying and put down.” I went on four mile hike a few weeks ago intentionally carrying an additional 40 pounds. That was hard work, needless to say, (especially considering at that point in time my pack was 7 pounds more than my heaviest weight) but not ideal for running with endurance. That’s what cracks me up about CrossFit—pile it on, go faster, harder, “for time.”

What fascinates me most about this Hebrews 12 passage is the number of times the word “discipline” is used. “Endurance” is used 4 times  and “Discipline” is used 9 times. What does it take to lay aside that which weighs down? Discipline—but not a discipline I can generate, nor is it for my purpose that I run. “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.” (Heb 12:10). 

Sometimes we just don't know what it is that needs to be shed in order that we may run. His discipline does train us to run with heaviness, but to run lightly. That which needs to be shed is very specific--did you see that weight is called "the sin that so easily entangles"? When God by discipline exposes it, drop it. Put it down.

That’s the goal. This is the reason we run. Not because of the cloud of witnesses who are watching from the stands, but because of the strength we need in our weak knees that will carry us along the straight path, pursuing peace with all men and sanctification that we may be pleasing to the Lord (Heb 12:12-14). 

We need to put off everything that keeps us from reaching that goal.

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