"Never look back unless you are planning to go that way."(Henry David Thoreau) Wise words for us to consider this morning, aren't they? Which direction do you plan on pursuing today? It may be that you have already selected that direction by the focus you are maintaining! Thoreau also said that things are not what change in this world - it is US that change in the midst of the things!
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor. (Hebrews 12:1-2 VOICE)
Stay focused on Jesus - this is the message I want us to hear as we begin this "mad rush" toward Christmastime. It isn't the malls, presents, trees, cookies, fudge, or even the carols that will enlighten our hearts, or help us manage our time well. It is his presence - his face before ours - remembering it is not the purchases that matter, but his peace and his grace.
He designed us - who better to trust with our day's business? He knows the ins and outs of our every capability. He knows the true capacity of one's endurance. He knows the internal working of our mind as we mull over each and every detail. Trust him to keep that mind focused and determined not to let what beckons for our attention to get us bound up in things we don't need to concern ourselves with.
He perfected us - we aren't going to achieve anything"good" this holiday season apart from what he has already done within us. We might volunteer at a soup kitchen, or run a food drive for the homeless. These are worthy plans and will indeed be blessed when we keep him first in all we do. We don't need to do these to earn his love, nor "complete" what he has begun in us by his grace - we just do them because he burdens our hearts for the need around us.
He doesn't intend for us to carry that weight - so let it go. There is no better time to be free of what weighs us down unnecessarily. Some will have convinced themselves they were "meant" to carry that burden, simply because their "deeds" didn't measure up somewhere down the line and this present weight must be a punishment for those misdeeds. Nothing could be further from the truth, for all those misdeeds are covered by his grace.
He knows the "cling" of sin - so he made a way for us to be free of it. Sin has a way of "shrink-wrapping" to fit our present circumstances - to hold us tightly inside the boundary of its bonds believing their is no way to escape. He splits that seal and places another deeply into our hearts - the seal of his Spirit declaring loudly that we are his and the object of his affection. As such, no sin can "cling" to us any longer.
He is aware of the length of our race - so he made a way for us to endure it, and not only to endure, but to win. We run a lot in this lifetime, isn't it about time we run for what matters? To run from sin, and toward grace - this is the goal. To run from doubt, and toward trust - this is the mission. To run from worry, and toward peace - this is the aim.
As we begin the "mad rush" of the season, let us not lose focus. Let us run with endurance, focused intently on him, never losing sight of the reason we celebrate this season in the first place! It is indeed that we might celebrate the grace he brings and the love he so magnificently revealed in coming to earth to make a way for us to reconnect in fellowship with the heavenly father. Just sayin!