Hebrews 12 for me contains one of my all-time favorite passages of scripture. I don’t know if it’s the creativity of connecting “running with weights on” to sin, or if it’s the image of “fixing our eyes on Jesus” who is the author and perfecter of faith, but this passage has always meant a ton to me. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of today’s reflection, there’s a principle I want to teach when you’re reading scripture.
The “Therefore” Principle
Whenever you see the word “therefore,” you have to stop and ask, “what’s it there for?” In scripture you’ll see this word “therefore” used in multiple times in multiple settings, but the most important aspect of this word is the connection it make between passages and main points.
The author starts Hebrews 12 with the word “therefore” in order to connect Chapter 11 and 12 together. It’s important to connect our biblical heroes of faith (Chapter 11) to the author and perfecter of faith (Chapter 12). As we’ll read in Chapter 12, Chapter 11 is a who’s who of “such a great cloud of witnesses.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
When doing research for this reflection today I wanted to get a sense for the dynamic of writing a story. I looked up some different ideas and techniques in story writing that you could use to turn a blank page or screen into a literary masterpiece. Okay, so maybe not a literary masterpiece, but what I did learn is there is a parallel between the techniques writers use, and the similarities to allowing God to shape our story.
Techniques For Writing a Story
Pay Attention: Writers often find inspiration from looking at the environment around them. There is nothing in a writers environment that doesn’t have potential to be a story.
To You I Say: Pay attention to the work and calling God has for you in your life. Stop long enough to look around and take in the unfolding story of God in your life.
Listen: When you listen to people and really pay attention to what their saying, you can often hear a story coming to life.
To You I Say: Stop long enough to listen for God in your story and the story of others. Not only listen for his voice, but listen and obey. We see in John 17 (NIV) when Jesus was baptized that God said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Think: Thinking is a valuable key to story writing. When you allow yourself to truly stretch the limits of your mind, you are able to take in more information than you thought even imaginable.
To You I Say: Scripture tells us something very profound about some of the things we are supposed to think about. Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Paul indicates for us that “thinking” is as important as “doing” in the Christian Life. Paul tells us in Romans 12 that transformation is possible when our mind is renewed. Some of us need to get rid of our “stinkin’ thinkin’!”
Read a Book: You may not realize it, but one of the best inspirations to shaping your own story is to read someone else’s!
To You I Say: One book you all know you should be reading as a guide to your story is the Bible, God’s script he wrote for us. It’s not just a story, its history, or His-story. Its not just His story but our story. And it’s a story that has a beginning, middle, and end. There is no book on earth that has more power to shape, change, transform, guide, stimulate and encourage your story. Get into the habit of reading something everyday!
As we close, let these words from Paul resonate to us today.
Romans 15:4 (NIV) “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.