Running In Circles

Recently I was listening to a sermon on Hebrews 12.  The passage says this:

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us’. (v1-3)

Now, I’m not the brightest match in the box. I’d always assumed the verses  meant this:

‘life’s funny isn’t it?  Bit like a stadium, where I’m the main event…

(Yes, I Know how ridiculous this sounds, but wait, there’s more)…

…as I puff around the track, the rows are lined with spectators.   And not just  rent-a-crowd either.  Heroes of faith.  Gold-standard, A-List Saints, hanging on my every move.

There’s Moses, whooping from the sidelines.  And Gideon, waving one of those rattley things they used to have at football matches. You holler back: ‘Barak mate, nice you could make it’…

You might think that this sounds nice.  But, for me, if this were true it would be eyeballsquashingly terrifying .

Think about it. What do you say to ‘Lion’s Den’ Daniel when performance anxiety strikes?

‘Hey Danny – tripped on my shoelace: NIGHTMARE, eh?’

Or to Abraham when, y’know, you can’t be bothered… ‘Just don’t know if the training’s worth it. All those early mornings.  It’s a real sacrifice.’

So much for gospel encouragement from Hebrews. It’s like discovering you’re on Big Brother.  I knew God had my number, but not the whole cast of Ben Hur. Why couldn’t they have stayed home with a box set instead?

Unless of course, I’ve Completely misread the verses.



Turns out the passage doesn’t mean what I thought.  (Paul B, yet again, I Owe you).

Barak and co have better things to do than check my tweets.  Plus, the verses really are an encouragement.  What they’re saying is this: the world goes in circles.  Whatever situation I might be facing, others have been there first.  Those heroes of faith aren’t there to make me feel bad.  Or to add a bit of colour to the genealogies.  They show me that it’s possible to get through life – whatever the situation – and that God can be trusted.  And not in a guilt-inducing, you’re a miserable faithless worm comparison way either.

When I go back to God’s word, I read about real people. People who screw up, just like me. People living in a real world. People who get frustrated, angry, tired, depressed, annoyed.  Who also have to keep fighting the same battles, over and over.  People who also plead with God to take their struggles away.

Sometimes He does.  Sometimes He doesn’t.  But here’s the thing. He never leaves them.  He brings them through.  He gives them faith and hope and perseverance. As I read about them, I’m reminded that we serve an awesome God.  And in a very real sense, He’s doing the same thing with me.

5 thoughts on “Running In Circles

  1. ‘Some times he does and sometimes he doesn’t”. Funny how comforting this explanation is. So often Job is my very best friend (and not just because he got stuff back, plus more, in the end), but more because in the middle of his misery he continued to cry out and seek the face of God. My troubles (unlike Job’s) are mostly a result of my bad choices but there is some pretty bad stuff there too, that I didn’t ask for. I am tempted to play the victim card and say to God “sorry, I can’t! If you wanted to use me you should have protected me from such and such.” As if ! Thank you so much for this post, I am encouraged.

  2. The bit that challenges me is “let us throw off everything that hinders”. The image of throwing something off is to me like running a cross country where five minutes into the run you take off an old hoody, throw it into some bushes and never go back for it. Oh that I could have the discipline to do that rather than to keep my sin tied around my waist in case I want it again!

  3. Hi Caroline – Yes, Job is a great encouragement to me too and, like you say, a challenge. Too often I try to bargain with God and then throw a hissy fit when I don’t get what I asked for..

  4. Sometimes God does not take our struggles away because then we might become independent and proud.

    And He loves us to much to let that happen…

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