“So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.” Hebrews 12:12-13
We are called to live holy lives for God‘s glory, our benefit, and to help others. Hard to do when you’re tired. And shaky. And you just don’t feel like it. Don’t want to get up, stand up, start out on the path again, or deal with others. Anybody. (Unless they’re bringing you a fresh cup of coffee.)
To ‘mark out a straight path for your feet’ means to live (as John Maxwell says) an intentional life. To decide where you’re going, what you are and are not going to do today. Who will you spend time with? Do you even know what path you’re on? The people you spend time with are largely determined by the places you decide to go, or not go. Do you know where you want to end up?
Things happen; life happens. And it seems to take an awful lot of energy some days to walk this thing out.
I joined a gym in December because the orthopedic surgeon said I need to go; swimming and Pilates are the best exercises for Scoliosis and arthritis. I have yet to go. I won’t feel better until I do, but most days I don’t feel well enough to actually get in the car and drive there. (And there are people there etc., etc.)
This isn’t at all what this verse is talking about, I don’t think, but it certainly is one way to apply it. When Paul wrote this letter to the Hebrew Christians, he was encouraging them to lead intentional lives. Do you know we are supposed to have followers? That people should be able to look at us and say “So that is what a normal Christian life looks like.” We’re supposed to set an example.
As one of the women said last night “Even if we go forward crying, and still in pain, we go forward.” So true. God isn’t looking for a dressed up and shiny package of smiling, bubble-headed believers who have it all together. He looks at our hearts: our desire, and willingness to follow Him, and live life differently than the people around us.
I stopped trying to make my daughters go to youth group when I saw the direction the group was headed. They were only investing in the kids who looked like they had it all together; (mostly kids whose parents were leaders in the church) and who had all the outward trappings of what the world would call “leadership potential”. I didn’t want my kids to learn that kind of Christianity. My kids have been through hell, and will enter Heaven triumphant, victorious, and strong. They know how to do warfare.
One night, in the middle of the divorce years, I had a dream. I was in a large open field, which I understood to be a battle field. My daughters were standing in the middle of this field, and I watched as my oldest daughter helped her little sister put on her armor, and then put on her own. Then they each picked up a sword and a shield, and slowly turned to me and said “Okay mom, we’re ready”. And I woke up.
They struggle, as young adults, to lead lives that are holy. To know that they are called, but some days just don’t feel like it. So do I. We cannot do this on our own strength; without the help of the Holy Spirit, it just won’t happen. Life can be just too overwhelming. If I’m doing this, then I’m neglecting that; between college applications, financial aid, scholarship forms and deadlines, it’s hard to remember people. The worries and cares of this world are just that; once this journey is over, we leave it all behind. We enter heaven blood-stained, tear-stained, and covered with the dirt of our own personal battles. But oh, when we get there ….. to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”. To be welcomed with open arms and know that we’re safe, loved, forgiven.
It will be worth it all.