Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold
Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race before us
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold
Yesterday we considered how Paul inspired the Hebrew saints with the memory of all the miracles that had been done to their ancestors. Immediately after this is his statement from Hebrews 12, that all of these examples of the faithful ought to empower them to be faithful themselves.
Thus Paul used the stories of the Old Testament prophets to inspire those that were familiar with those legends, but to those that were not, such as the saints in Corinth, he instead recalled their own firsthand experience of gaining hope in the message of Christ, and tells them that such faith should make them bold. It is the same message as to the Hebrews, but it is rooted in a different set of memories.
The point is that each of us is given something to start remembering the goodness of God by. For some of us it might be the words of the scriptures that we learned in our youth, for others it is the example of good men and women who pointed us in the right direction, and for others it is the first time that God spoke directly into our hearts. Whatever it is, each of us have something to think back to that inspires us to do great things.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
By faith Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house.
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac,
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God
By faith Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house
Hebrews 11 is a wonderful treatise on faith, and well worth an examination just for that. But today I actually wanted to take a step back, look at Paul’s methodology in the chapter as a whole, and glean what we can from his teaching style.
What Paul is doing through this entire sequence is reminding the saints about miracles that have already occurred, even ones that occurred anciently and are only known because of the scriptural record that was kept of them.
Which I do believe is one of the exact reasons why God has kept and preserved the scriptures: so that we can be reminded of the good that He has already done, and thus feel empowered to ask Him to do new good works in us.
Which is exactly where most of us begin our path of discipleship. We didn’t have our own miracles to reflect on, so we had to reflect on the miracles of others instead. If He did all this for Noah, Sara, Abraham, Moses, and the Israelites, if He did all this for our pastor, our family member, our friend…then why not us as well?
Paul understands that reflecting on these stories, even though they are not our own, will still generate greater faith in our hearts, which leads us to take our own leaps of faith, which finally allows us to have our own miracles to recall.
At the start of this month I shared a personal goal for myself: to cut down on my use of media and entertainment. Now when I first made that commitment to myself I was thoroughly convinced on it. I knew that it was the right thing to do and I was actually excited to get started.
The next day I started to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake.
Of course, all the reasons to make this transformation in my life were still valid, but I just couldn’t make myself care about them anymore. In fact, it wasn’t long before I caught myself breaking my commitment, and not even maliciously, I had simply forgotten about the things that had once seemed so important.
Children of God are like this. We have real moments of grandeur where we sincerely want all that is good…followed by a long reversion back into our default “meh” state.
Now with my personal example, once I started thinking again about what my commitment had been and why I had made it, some of that old fire started to rekindle. It really felt like blowing on the coals, bit-by-bit getting the heat back into them until they could ignite again.
As such I’ve instituted a regular “blowing on the coals” practice into my day. Every couple hours an alarm goes off on my phone, reminding me to recite back my commitments and the reasons for why I am doing them. (Yes, the irony of using an alarm on my phone to remind me to not use digital media is not lost on me!)
I hope that in time I will learn to be a better rememberer. But even if I do, I suspect I will always require a time of refreshing, recommitting, and renewing. It is okay that we forget, we just have to be sure, then, to remind ourselves.
During my last study I had the same, single idea resurface a few times, which is always a clear indication to me of what my next topic of research should be. That last study was focused on counting one’s blessings, and how doing so is a form of remembering the good that God has done for is. As I thought about, though, I realized that there was a lot more to remembering in the gospel than just counting blessings, and I want to explore the concept further.
God has gone to great lengths to help us remember the things that matter most. To ancient prophets like Moses He not only gave His word, but also instructed that these things be written down and preserved, so that later generations would be able to remember the wisdom from before. The survival of these records clear to the present day is miraculous, and suggests the hand of God continuing its preservation.
In my own life, too, the question I bring to God today often is met with the remembrance of the answer He already gave before. In this study I want to consider what the full benefits of remembering are, the different ways that we can remember, and what sort of things we ought to be remembering.
In the meantime I would like to hear about what ways you have used to remember the things that matter most. Do you keep a journal of lessons you have received? Do you memorize scriptures and reflect on them frequently? Do you meet with others to recount the miracles that you witnessed together? I really would love to hear what methods you use to keep the good alive.