Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
12 “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,”
This morning, our pastor spoke about this verse as he wrapped up our journey through Hebrews. He is eloquent and honest. Always bringing home the lessons in a way that is applicable to our daily lives. We are grateful to have found a home in this tiny, but mighty, church in the middle of God’s beautiful country.
During the sermon, he listed things that drew him TOWARDS God and things that sometimes “entangled” him and drew him away from God. The things were not necessarily sins, but instead just big distractions and things that allowed him to waste time and NOT be drawn towards God.
It got me to thinking.
Years ago, during the most difficult trial God has brought me through to date, He opened my eyes and helped me to see the things that I was compromising and allowing my mind to be a part of that were not glorifying to Him or best for me. Many TV shows, movies, and magazines that were really trendy and popular had been creeping into our home over the years, but God helped me to see that they were not only based on themes that were inappropriate, but they actually winked at sin and the things that were laid out clearly by God in the Bible. Thankfully, God spoke to my heart about these things and caused me to stop watching these shows and reading these magazines and helped me to focus, instead, on things that would help me win the current battle for my mind and heart that was raging all around me.
Instead of watching TV and looking at mindless articles about celebrities, He helped me to find a “life verse” to help my children and I stay focused and we walked some difficult roads in the years to follow. I adopted the verse Proverbs 24:3-4 as my life verse.
3 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.(NIV)
I clung to it and made it my goal to do whatever I could to become wise and be able to lead my two children, Braveheart and Miss Sunshine, out of the valley we found ourselves in at the time.
Why am I telling you about this? Because I know that sin is not the only thing that “entangles us” and keeps us from being out best and getting closer to Christ. It’s the little things as well. They can captivate our mind, drain our energy, and waste precious time that could be used in different, more beneficial ways for our family.
What are my entanglements these days? I no longer struggle with TV or magazines or movies. I hardly ever watch TV or movies and I haven’t bought a magazine about people for probably 15 years. Instead of those things entangling my mind and thoughts, my mind seems to be focused on other people God has placed within my view. People who wink at sin. People who are inconsistent and downright self-serving at the expense of their families, their friends, and their children. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of emotional energy I have wasted on trying to “fix” other people and help them realize how their actions are affecting their families.
Recently, God has been helping me to realize that this is an entanglement of my mind that definitely verges on sin and causes me to be in the way of God at times. He is helping me to clearly see that it is not up to me to change their course of action. He is teaching me to turn them over to Him. Trust Him with this. Understand that I am merely human and He is the one true God. Only He can change a heart. Only He can help a person to see truth. No matter how hard I try, I cannot change the heart of a person. God is helping me to “let go and let God” like the cliché from years ago stated.
The past eight months have been freeing for me. God has given us our dream farm (greenacresadventure.com) and brought us to a real-life Mayberry to give us the rest and peace that our family has needed for years. He has shown me how desperately I needed to hand over some situations and people to Him and allow Him to handle it in His own timing in His own way for His own glory.
Now, on to the things that cause me to have GREAT JOY and GREAT PEACE in my heart. These things have consistently pointed me towards God and my pursuit of His wisdom, love, and grace.
My family. My husband, my children, and my step-daughter have blessed me in ways beyond my imagination. They trust God. They love Him. They pursue Him. They find ways to love others and serve others. God has outdone Himself on my behalf concerning my family.
My friends. They breathe life into my bones. They bless me, pray for me, encourage me, and love me even when I am not perfect or on top of my game. I am grateful for every last one of the friends whom God has placed into my life for these purposes.
Our church and community. Wow. We are blessed in such a huge way to be a part of such a wonderful, Godly group of people. We have loved the church family who has embraced our family, the school system which has entrusted me with the children of our town, the leaders of both entities who have provided Christian guidance and wisdom, the people in the community who have welcomed us with open arms, and the ranchers we have met who have provided endless information and guidance for our new adventure.
Our ranch. It is overwhelming to me at times that God has deemed our family worthy of this blessing. He has given us thirty beautiful acres with ponds, streams, trees, and three unique buildings placed strategically in the perfect places to avoid the flooding that is common in these hilly regions during times of runoff. We barely have standing water on our land even after the frequent deluges that come through our area. God did this.
Our farm animals and pets. Obviously, if you know me at all, you know I love animals. The fact that I can comfortably house 2 horses, 3 donkeys, 10 cows, 3 pigs, 60 chickens, 4 dogs, and 5 cats with no problem of overcrowding or issue at all, will tell you that our land has been awesome for our family. God knew this about us and gave us the capability to easily house and feed the animals at minimal cost to our family.
The final thing that spurs me on in my walk with God is His handiwork found in nature. The sky, trees, animals, and insects provide constant awareness and sources of acknowledgement for His kingdom. He is everywhere I look. The breathtaking scenery surrounding me on my drive to work. The unexpected baby donkey that arrived on our farm two weeks ago tomorrow. The baby chicks that hatched the week before that. The beautiful people he has surrounded me with at work, church, and home. It is overwhelming to me.
Thank you, God, for giving us very tangible ways to be spurred on in our pursuit of You. Help us to focus on these pursuits alone. Pray for God to “let us throw off everything that hinders” us in our pursuit of Him. Hand over the things that are out of our control. Let God be God. Focus on what spurs you forward in your spiritual journey and “run with perseverance the race marked out for” you.
What things do you need to “throw off” and what things do you need to run towards in your life to accomplish His purposes in your life?