A New Grip

“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” (Hebrews 12:11–13 NLT)

You’re already tired of it. You’re even a little jaded by the idea. New Year’s Resolutions are a thing of the past. We are much more practical these days, mainly because we know what we’re capable of. We’re pretty sure that we’ll hit the gym for a few weeks in January and not grace it again by the time March rolls around. We’re pretty sure that this is not the year that we’re going to realize our dreams. This last decade was tough in many respects, and 2009 closed it with a bang. Financial woes, terrorism attacks, political debates, secularism on the rise, poverty, disease; all of it seems too much to overcome.

While I’m right there with the pessimist around this time of year, I think the writer of Hebrews gives us a different view that needs to be savored. Hebrews 12 starts with the 30,000-foot view of being surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses that is cheering us on. This shows us that what we do really does matter in the grand scheme of things. In fact, it makes all the difference in the world. A crowd is watching our daily decisions much more intently than we could ever watch a National Championship or a Super Bowl game. Then Hebrews 12 gives us the only reason we can be ever be hopeful: Jesus was and is still on the throne. He who conquered death remains in control of all things. Christ resisted sin to the point of death on the cross, and Hebrews 12 tells us that we need to fight just as hard. If his Spirit is within us, then there is a reason for hope moving forward. Then, after being filled with such optimism from these wonderful thoughts, the coldwater comes pouring in when Hebrews 12 begins to talk about spiritual discipline and how it is connected to the love of our Heavenly Father. It shows that this section of Scripture is not all warm fuzzies and pie in the sky ideas; it is immersed in the realities and difficulties that we experience in this life. And it is a realistic message we need to hear as a new decade begins: it takes discipline and enduring pain if we are going to experience His life within us.

But finally, we get to the message for today, January 1, 2010: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” This has long been one of my favorite Scriptures because of the mental image it creates within me. I think of a guy hanging over the edge of a cliff and losing his grip. This person can’t see that help is coming and is going to lift him from impending death if he can just hang on. This is what Christ does for us and in us if we are willing to have enough hope to take a new grip in our own lives. I pray that this year is one filled with many victories and many defeats for you. I pray this because experiencing the peace of victory is not nearly as sweet unless we have tasted the bitterness of defeat. So may you take a new grip with your tired hands because rescue is coming!

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