This mountainous picture captures the life of faith. While the Lord’s yoke is easy and his burden is light, nevertheless our faith consists of a series of ascending mountaintops, challenges we navigate with his help and training. Occasionally, we come out into a broad meadow, a place of peace before we must scale the next peak, but then upward, we must climb once more.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Therefore, God defines faith for us: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:6, 1 ESV).
Every one of the believers listed in Hebrews 11 was just as flawed and human as we are. There are no sinless people named. Jesus is the only one to ever accomplish sinlessness. Yet, these who went before us demonstrated their faith in the most difficult of circumstances. God remembers them for their successes, rather than their failures. This is how he sees us, too. Yet, we remember their flaws.
These who went before us demonstrated their faith in the most difficult of circumstances. God remembers them for their successes, rather than their failures. This is how he sees us, too. Click To Tweet
When we read of Abraham in that faith list, we remember that he was afraid, that he took matters into his own hands, and that he also gave away his wife, not once but twice — she who was to bear the child of promise. As we undertake our own journey, we find ourselves often battling the same struggles we have previously fought. Thus, Abraham’s faith journey encourages us. He required decades of growth before he understood that God didn’t need help fulfilling his promises.
As we read Hebrews 11, we recall that every one of them had failings. They are just like us. None are perfect. The Holy Spirit, in his vast wisdom, recorded the truth about each one. By recording their flaws, he offers encouragement to us as we scale the peaks of faith. Because our Savior took on human flesh and faced the same struggles we do, he knew we would need this encouragement, and so he provided it by holding up flawed believers as the great cloud of witnesses.
If they can be called people of faith, so can we.
God knew we would need encouragement, and so, he provided it by holding up flawed believers as the great cloud of witnesses. If they can be called people of faith, so can we. Click To Tweet
Since we’re all flawed, we all need God’s help to run the race. Since the Savior took on human flesh, allowing himself to be tempted in all things as we, yet without sin, he is our model. He completed the race without sin. He ran it well, and he now helps us to climb these peaks before us.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV).
In Hebrews 12, the author tells us how to run the race of faith with endurance, bearing up under the difficult circumstances of life. We learn here how to scale this series of ascending peaks, each offering a bigger challenge than the one before, for our physical strength wanes. Therefore, we must let go of the impediments and lay aside the weight of besetting sin that often seems to be a part of our every breath, so that we can run unimpeded.
Faith is a journey. He is the destination.
This is what the journey of faith looks like:
We look at Jesus — steadfastly, intently, and habitually. We develop the pattern and habit of fixing our minds upon him, turning toward his comforting presence and his example, studying what he did and how he did it. Meditating on him, communing with him. Pondering all he did that was true and right and praiseworthy. Crying out to him.
We turn to him as our comfort, our example, our guide.
Are we doing this?
Jesus kept his eye on the prize. “For the joy set before him” he endured the cross, though the shame of it was despicable, the moment awful, the trial traumatic. For the joy of obedience to the Father and of gaining us, he conquered. This is our model.
We have our eyes on the prize of obedience to him. We cherish our future union with him and his “well done, good and faithful servant,” enough to live with the intentionality that he did.
Are we doing this?
The passage contains the command to consider him accurately, to examine his distinctive actions repeatedly. To do this, we must be in the Word, combing through the Gospels and what the apostles wrote about him, familiarizing ourselves with the Old Testament prophecies of him. Thus, we come to know him, to be his familiar friend.
As with any race, there must be preparation. The discipline of this training, the trials we suffer, the chastening he brings when necessary, the instruction he gives to equip us, none of it should be regarded lightly, none should be considered small. Because he loves us, he trains us for the race. Each trial he brings us through is of the utmost significance, its lessons to be applied, its meaning remembered.
We recognize his training discipline for growth in each of our trials. He prepares us for a future that he already envisions.
Are we doing this? Do we know this?
Through the lessons of growth in past trials, we gain the discipline to move forward on his straight path. Scaling peaks doesn’t include coasting. When we fall down, he lifts us up again. To climb, we grab hold of the grace of God, taking heed of what he says, rather than refusing instruction, so that we can forgive others, avoid bitterness, grow in personal purity, and rely on the Lord to enable us to love others and to treat them as we would want to be treated.
With our eyes on Jesus, we learn to love our Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, for we are headed to his eternal city. He is our destination.
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven (Hebrews 12:22-23 ESV).
This is where we’re headed.
How is the journey going for you? Are you seeking him with intentionality?