Therefore, since we are surrounded by 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, NIV)
We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. – (Hebrews 12:1, ERV)
As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every would that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. – (Hebrews 12:1, TPT)
This, this is why we are called to be in community. Though we can accomplish much through Christ on our own, we can do and be more when we are surrounded by others who walk alongside us as we navigate the journey to which we are called. Incredibly, everyone has a story to tell, and we each have encouragement to offer, based on our experiences and the person whom we have been created to be. Though the struggles and seasons of suffering stink, they often become the space where we find God has grown us the strongest. It is in such seasons that we learn perseverance and dependence on Christ, and have to let go of everything else that weighs us down if we wish to keep moving forward. One of the things that I have missed terribly throughout this trying season, is the consistent community and gathering together to worship and fellowship with friends who have become family at home. However, I know that their prayerful support has been a tremendous contribution to what has sustained us as we have navigated this new and unknown road. God has been faithful each step of the way, and we trust Him to continue as each of us prepare for the next season in mom’s journey to a full recovery.
For mom, yesterday began with some strong ongoing progress that took incredible strength and courage. What terrified mom a little over a week ago, still frightened her a bit, yet she did not hesitate to participate and do her best. Doing upper body work from a kneeling position on the floor is a scary space for mom. However, it is a position that forces her to utilize the right side of her upper body, that she desperately wants to regain. She knows that the reward is worth the risk, and willingly fended off fear to do the work required of her. Ever so slowly, mom is activating her shoulder and scapula. Each time she does the exercises to strengthen the muscles, she also is increasing the message pathways to movement. Later in the afternoon, following an errand outing for a few necessities, lunch and Dutch Bros, we returned home and mom was ready to do some walking. Normally, mom changes into her tennis shoes with an AFO (something foot orthotic that lifts her toes so they don’t drag or catch when she steps) in them, but she already had her crocs on and I suggested she give it a try. Much to her surprise, she was able to walk well in her crocs without the AFO. This is extraordinarily exciting news, as it means that she is actually lifting her right leg as she steps, and no longer just dragging it through. The more she lifts her right foot as she steps, the greater variety of terrain she will be able to take on. (She really wants to walk around her yard!) Mom’s great cloud of witnesses have been coming to see her, more and more. She recognizes the benefit of visitors, and is enjoying reconnecting with dear friends from church, Bible studies and the like. Her perseverance is an encouragement to us all. May we ever seek to surround ourselves in community, so that we may encourage one another to persevere on the path to which we have been called.
Seek be invested,
To learn and to grow,
For each one planted,
Has something to give;
Wisdom to offer,
Strength from lessons lived.
Hearing from others,
Those far and those near;
Lifts up and strengthens,
Helps us persevere.
Reach out and grow roots,
Invest and make room;
Choose let others in,
Where you’re planted, bloom.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be in community. Thank You that we can both gain and offer strength to those around us as we do life together in You. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to be isolated when the road is difficult. Thank You for those whom You place in our lives to keep community strong, even when we are not nearby. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would reach out to those around us, regardless of our circumstances, as You bring beauty from ashes and often use our own weakness as Your greatest strength through us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they will be encouraged and built up; strengthened to persevere through all seasons. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest in the communities that You call us to, and praise You for the power to persevere that comes from You. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. – Hebrews 12:28