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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Being all we can be

Being an Army veteran, the saying, "Be all you can be..." has a meaning to me.  In embracing this "mantra" of the US Army, I decided to leave an old way of living to take on a new.  My past was gone - I was moving on with life.  I think this is maybe one of the reasons I chose to enter the military right out of high school - to move on.  Not just to move "out" of my parent's place, but to actually "move on" with my life.  I had lived pretty close to the edge of many choices, which if further pursued, could have been my undoing.  There is something to be said about "new starts", isn't there?  They are a place of leaving behind what existed and taking on the hope of what can only exist when we let go.  I think this is what our writer may have had in mind when he penned the words, "So, let's do it..."

So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:22-25 The Message)

Our writer has outlined many things in the preceding chapters of this book, with the hopes we'd understand the "former ways" of living were all changed when Christ completed his work on he cross.  The old passed away - the new took priority.  It allowed for us to actually truly "start over", in the most literal of senses.  What we don't want to do is merge the past with the present.  This is indeed a very hard thing to do.  We hold onto things we ought to let go of, remembering their impact on our lives, and then seemingly never being able to free ourselves of their influence.  Paul was really trying to help us see clearly - the past only has control when we give it permission to control us by embracing the practices of the past.

Paul lays it out there - "So let's do it!"  Let's make a break from the past - from the things which held us back from fully being "all we can be".  It is possible only as we "move into" Christ and "move away" from the past.  There is a pattern Paul lays out for us:

- Be full of belief.  Do you know what helped me "make the break" from my past?  It was not the desire to be free - it was the action to be free.  I took the steps to be free.  In a literal sense, I sought out the recruiter, listened to what he had to offer, took the exams, found my job and received my assignment.  At an appointed period in time, I reported for duty.  My life changed because of the willingness to take the actions to see it changed.  We too often equate "belief" to just some mental assent.  Yes, there is a mental component to belief - but to be "full of belief", there must be the coupling of action with the mental hope / assurance.  Paul has spent ten chapters giving us all the evidence which supports our mental belief - now, he challenges us to take the next step - allowing what our minds have come to embrace as truth to affect what our hearts "do" in the practicality of walking it out day to day.  

- Stand confident because we are presentable inside and out.  In Basic Training, the military takes "civilians" and turns them into "soldiers".  Plain and simple - there is an "exchange" of one lifestyle for another.  One thing I realized as I donned the uniform - it not only changed my outside appearance, it bolstered something on the inside which affected my inward impression of myself.  In a very literal sense, I was being made presentable inside and out! In a spiritual sense, Paul tells us we have this similar experience when we "put on" Christ.  We not only see an outward change, but the heart begins to be affected by the purity of Christ.  We begin to think differently - leading to acting differently.  There is always the potential for new action when the mind has taken on a different perception of the situation!  Confidence is based on assurance - assurance is based on proof - the proof is found in the empty cross and grave!  Jesus is neither still on the cross - nor is he in the grave.  He sits enthroned at the right hand of God his Father.  In such a place, he is in the very position to give us immediate and certain access to the very things we need to "move on" from our past!

- Keep a firm grip on the promises of God.  Let me admit, Basic Training made me question my motives many times!  There were days when I was definitely "home-sick" - I wanted to go back!  There will be days in this walk with Christ when it gets hard!  We might be desiring to just turn back.  You know what I want to tell you when this happens?  "Get a grip!" - this too shall pass!  In "letting go" of our grip on the past, we have our hands free to "grip" onto what has the power of taking us to new heights.  I had to buckle down, remember my purpose in the moment, and then re-focus myself on the goal - to be forever free of the past.  In a spiritual sense, we must do the same.  It is in letting go that we are free to take on a new grip - not before!

- Be inventive in stimulating growth in others.  The most telling time in Basic Training was when some of my bunk mates were struggling, too.  I'd hear their quiet weeping from their bunks and see the tear stained pillow.  I could have spent my time commiserating with them.  What would that have done?  It would have kept BOTH of us in the position of being "gripped" by our past!  What we each needed was a little encouragement to embrace the experiences ahead.  So, we came alongside each other - spurring one another on until the misery of the moment faded and we were ready to embrace the next set of challenges.  There is something to be said about stimulating another to growth.  In doing so, we often find ourselves bolstered ourselves!

So, let's consider "being all we can be" in Christ!  In choosing to "move on", we are choosing to loosen our grip on the past, so as to reach out and take a new grip on what lays ahead in our future.  Just sayin...