39 All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith. 40 God provided something better for us so they wouldn’t be made perfect without us.
12:1 So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, 2 and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.
Bob Goff said, “The plan to free yourself is simple: keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.” The writer to the Hebrews cited a historic list of faithful servants of God. Some had fairly happy lives, some met tragic earthly fates. Frederick Buechner said God’s grace says, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us.”* Hebrews didn’t say, “Fix your eyes on these faith-filled humans.” It called us to “fix our eyes on Jesus,” as they did.
Lord Jesus, when things go well, it’s easy for me to forget that I need you. When things go badly, it’s easy for me to think you’ve abandoned me. Thank you for being with me in both light and dark days. Amen.
* Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC (Revised and Expanded). HarperSanFrancisco, 1993, p. 39.
Our daughter Savannah, a junior in high school, is in the color guard for the marching band. In August, my husband and I found ourselves at a marching band camp preview where parents got to see what the band had been working on during the previous couple weeks of band camp. We looked forward to seeing the band in action, especially after a year’s hiatus from performing, plus it was an opportunity to meet and hear from the new band director.
We watched, keeping a close eye on Savannah marching and turning and tossing the flag. She looked great out there. With 19 years of experience sitting in the audience and on the sidelines for all of our girls’ activities, we loved watching her.
When they finished, the band director said something like this: “Okay. Now, we’re going to do the same performance again. This time, don’t focus on watching your own child, watch the performance as a whole.”
What a gift! He knew as parents our eyes would understandably be fixed on our own child. But he didn’t want us to miss out on the overall performance – seeing how the movements were taking shape, listening to the music and gaining an understanding of the overall effect. It was an entirely different experience!
That was likely the only time we’ll have the opportunity to watch the performance twice in a row. But the impact of the exercise was lasting for us. Now when we’re at a football game or a band competition, we keep an eye on Savannah, but we also remember to step back and take in the big picture. And, while we’re joyful for her individual achievement, we’re able to derive more joy from the band’s group effort and performance.
In this weekend’s message, Bob Goff reminded us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Sounds simple enough, but it is all too easy to get distracted or fixated on the wrong things. It is important to broaden our view and see the big picture – the eternal picture – to help us through the difficulties and tragedies in our lives and to counterbalance our inwardly focused nature.
It's easy to get bogged down in the weight of this world – sin, negative thinking, stress, relationship struggles, grief… any number of things. Fixing our eyes on Jesus helps us remember the bigger picture: God is always with us, and nothing can separate us.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus helps us remember what we are called to do as Christians and helps us go forward doing that good work with joy.
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