June 5/6, 2021
From the Pastor’s Desk: Pastor Alex Poon
Have you ever run a race before? Maybe, like me, you haven’t run any sort of race in many, many years. But here’s what I remember; the last 3 minutes were always the hardest. The finish line is in sight, and you’re able now to count down the seconds until your body will no longer feel the burning pain of exhaustion. You think to yourself, “I can’t wait to take that relaxed breath… soon”.
It’s the mental challenge that’s the most difficult at this point. With all your resiliency, you must will your body to cross the finish line… speedily. Your mind is tempted to convince your muscles to slow down, to begin your relaxation a touch early, jogging if not walking across the finish line. But all good runners know that’s not how you finish a race.
I think that’s what a lot of us are feeling these days. We see the finish line of the pandemic, things are beginning to reopen, I mean, we’re now able to eat inside the restaurant now right? With restart plans being announced, we now have somewhat of a better view of what the finish line looks like. If we can’t see the finish line yet, we know it’s right around the corner. We just have to keep on running.
Well, this mentality to “keep on running” is called endurance. And endurance reaches beyond the pandemic, it’s something we must deal with for the rest of life. Endurance is something the author of Hebrew knew all children of God needed.
It’s needed in the midst of a pandemic; it’s needed when Christian’s feel fatigued in discipleship or even our worship. It’s needed when life is confusing, disorienting, full of turmoil in one difficult sense or another. Therefore, the author of Hebrews did not mince his words to his readers.
What are we enduring towards? In the midst of his readers being tempted to throw away their confidence (Hebrews 10:35,39), when his readers began to lose their compassion, or their passion for proclaiming the gospel to each other and perhaps to their own hearts; the Hebrews author wrote to them, “You have need for endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:36).
He encouraged them at length to faithfully persevere and endure – to hold tight to God’s promises. But most importantly, he pointed his readers to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). It’s Jesus who gifts us with God’s loving gift of endurance, a gift he gives all his children.
How? Jesus stirs our hearts to move towards him more and more. Jesus opens the eyes of our hearts to see his love, compassion, mercy and help more and more. When we feel we are lacking, it’s Jesus who gives us strength. Even on the days where our love for Jesus seems dry, it’s Jesus first who refreshes our awe and wonder of him. He gives us another reason to worship him, he gives us with another touch of intimacy, another new breath of life. He gives us a fresh reminder how we can lean on him, find our refuge in him, find our help with him. All we need to do is earnestly admit our need for such love. All we need to do is ask and receive. That’s the wonder of our Saviour.
Endurance is a beautiful, yet complicated reality of our lives. On one hand we long for more of it, but on the other hand, we don’t like how we get more of it. Like all athletes know, in order to gain a little more endurance, they must put their bodies to the test. Pain, a good kind of pain rooted in discipline is the kind of experience that will grow us in endurance. We must sit in the experience of the discomfort. But it is there, that Jesus stirs our hearts to seek and rest in him.
So what shall we do? A prayer on our lips can be found in Psalm 16:11 “You make known to them the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Let’s pray this for our own souls, and for the souls of those around us.
Seek Jesus and endure well.