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Friday, February 10, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | Hebrews 12:1–6

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.” (NRSV)

Things that cling are really annoying. Lint. A corduroy skirt when I’m wearing tights. Plastic wrap that, instead of neatly covering a dish of leftovers, folds back in on itself and ends up a bumpy, unhelpful ball. And, yes, clingy people can be annoying too. I know this because, sometimes, when feeling especially vulnerable or particularly frightened, I am one.

That’s why I so appreciate how the author of Hebrews uses the word cling in verse 1. This is exactly how my burdens and sins—especially the ones that are so hard-wired into me, as uniquely as the color of my eyes or the shape of my nose—feel. They doggedly cling to me, and I can’t get them off, no matter how hard I try. Just a few short minutes of listening to my mental monologue (some days, more like a full-on dinner party conversation) or reading journals from any point in my life is proof of this fact.

So I’m going to stop trying so hard. I’ve fought enough battles with Saran Wrap to know that the more frustrated and angry I become, the bigger the mess I create. Sinfulness: same deal. I can become consumed with how intrinsic and inescapable my sins seem, how I can’t stop doing or saying or being whatever. Yes, they are. No, I can’t. That’s not the point. Running the race is. Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, the “leader and perfecter of faith,” is. Once I stop obsessing about the habits of behavior or mind that won’t let go of me, I can quiet down and choose more life-giving and love-furthering options. Out of that can come joy and grace so strong that I don’t really care what might be sticking to the back of my skirt—or soul.

Jesus, you know the conundrum of being human. Thank you for your model of patient suffering and courageous integrity. Help me to follow it, as well as the example of so great a cloud of witnesses. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning

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