So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, "But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Hebrews 10:35-39
I'm a sucker for inspirational sports movies, especially ones centered on the underdog. Rudy, Friday Night Lights, Hoosiers, Miracle, Remember The Titans, Field of Dreams…the list goes on and on. If I'm flipping through the channels and any of these films happen to be playing, you might as well cancel all my plans for the day because I'm watching them. Between you and me, I have been known to cry like a baby when the coach rallies the ragtag group of players together with words of wisdom, motivation, and encouragement.
Maybe it's the sports fanatic in me, but when I read today's passage, I can't help but hear it (and receive it) in the way of a locker room halftime speech. This band of believers was down, but not out. They had taken their lumps. Time and time again, they had faced the onslaught of suffering, distress, and persecution. Morale was low. Some in their midst were ready to enact the mercy rule and take the loss.
The outcome, and how things played out, hung in the balance. Would they fold under pressure or pull off a rally no one saw coming? The coach, in this instance the author of Hebrews, needed to come up with a battle cry.
He tells them "DON'T SHRINK BACK!" He does so not to berate them, question their loyalty, or size them up. These gracious words are a reminder to hold their ground and persevere. The author understood the value of this moment and how the trials they encountered had the potential to build and shape their character.
He wanted them to have faith, but not in themselves. The confidence he urged them to hold on to centered on Jesus Christ. To display faith that stands confidently in the face of disappointment and trials, they needed to remember God's past faithfulness, the enduring strength He provides in the present moment, and look toward His promises in the future. I picture the congregation jumping to their feet, high fiving each other and racing out on to the gridiron to sack the enemy's schemes.
As believers in Christ, we find ourselves in the same locker room listening to the same speech. In this life, we will encounter troubles, but we can rest and have peace because He overcame the world. He went before us, so when we face trying circumstances, we need not shrink back. Knowing and trusting in this reality enables us to tackle any problem that comes our way. It allows us to have clear eyes and full hearts, and when you have those two things you can't lose.
As you look at your life right now would you say that you are walking forward in faith or shrinking back from His purposes for you? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
God, I will not shrink back or throw away my confidence in Your faithfulness. I won't be overwhelmed by the scope of my problems and instead trust in the size of my God. You conquered death so I could experience a full life and that's what I will do today. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.