“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…” Hebrews 12:1
My eldest boy had his four wisdom teeth removed this week— talk about extreme extraction. Pain, swelling, no sports or driving— an eighteen-year-old male having to make do with sappy smoothies and soup… it’s been a sorrowful sight indeed. Poor guy. At this point I am literally itching to insert the stellar photo I snapped when he got home after surgery and was snuggled in icepacks and a neck pillow looking rather inebriated. Argh, I won’t. Self-control and the fact that I want him to love me forever. But the whole ordeal got me to thinking about extracting or getting rid of “hindrances” from my own life to make it smoother and cleaner and more effective. What do I need to “throw off”? How ‘bout you?
We often hear life being likened to a race. Not a sprint, but rather a marathon. Now I’m no marathon runner but I do enjoy a nice little jaunt around the neighborhood (‘little’ being the operative word). If there’s one thing that gets my goat, it’s when I’m half way around and realize I didn’t need that jacket or I should have worn shorts instead of longs. Know what I mean? The lightweight jacket suddenly weighs twenty pounds and you just want to dump it. It hinders. It impairs. It affects my speed and I’m running grumpy.
The definition of extraction is “the action of taking out something, especially using effort or force”. That certainly applies to wisdom teeth, but perhaps sometimes it applies to shedding some weight while we run our life race as Christians. It can be painful. Extra effort is required. We have to ruffle our comfortable feathers to reveal what’s impeding our steps. It may be extreme and it may be negligible, but whatever that entangling “stuff” is, it needs to be addressed.
What kind of “stuff” am I talking about, you may ask. The list is as long as it is varied. Matthew Henry’s Commentary puts it like this:
“Let us lay aside all external and internal hindrances.”
There’s external AND internal? When I consider what external hindrances might be, they can run anywhere from toxic relationships to watching too much TV. What’s pulling me against the current Jesus wants me to flow with? What’s stopping me from serving him effectively? What’s causing my prayer life and my time with Him to fall low on the priority list? Henry puts it far more eloquently than I:
“Inordinate care for the present life, or fondness for it, is a dead weight upon the soul, that pulls it down when it should ascend upwards, and pulls it back when it should press forward; it makes duty and difficulties harder and heavier than they would be.”
“Dead weight upon the soul” kind of sums it up.
Internal hindrances… oh my. That “sin that so easily entangles” and gets in the way of each purposeful stride. Pride, jealousy, fear, bitterness, anger, selfishness, laziness, on and on with the examples… and my favourite: DISTRACTION.
How I would love a little extraction of my distraction!
Back to those teeth… my son hadn’t been having any major issues with his pearly whites, so why go through the pain of taking them out? When our dentist showed us the x-ray, we could see the wisdom teeth were on a path of mass destruction heading straight for the next, healthy, unassuming tooth along. Yep, trouble was a-brewing. It was just a matter of time before his mouth would be a warzone.
Sometimes we need to take preventative action in our extraction of the hindrances. That little “weight” may not be affecting your Christian walk/ run right now, but how about a little further down the racetrack?
I love the words that immediately follow our verse in Hebrews 12… “fixing our eyes on Jesus”. Even if the extraction is painful or uncomfortable or scary, we can do it when we fix our eyes on Jesus. Just like when we run a marathon (some of us in our wildest imaginations) and we fix our eyes on that finish line. We’re not flying solo here— heck, we even have a whole bunch of the faithful cheering us on (beginning of verse 1). The race will be so much more effective and I think we’ll feel better about our running style if we don’t have the “stuff” to contend with. It’s a constant battle, a constant race, but the prize is eternal.
Throwing it off. Cheering you on,
Linking up with some fabulous encouragers! Check them out: