Do you have a “life verse?”
I have two or three verses that qualify as “life verses” for me. These verses speak into my heart and soul, and I go back to them over and over again. Hebrews 12:1-2 is one of these passages that has always drawn me closer to God:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This passage is about perseverance, a concept that became very important to me in high school. I wanted to be a great student and I strove for straight “A’s” on each report card, which incidentally, I did not always get. But for some reason, a fire was lit in my heart for excelling in my studies. I went to this passage for inspiration.
Adulthood brings greater and often heavier challenges, especially as we become parents. These verses mean so much more to me now than they did when they first moved me. They are verses about how we choose to get up each day. Hebrews 12:1-2 has had lasting significance for each season of my life. The passage raises these questions:
- How do we run the race?
- What does it mean to endure?
As a high school student, running the race and enduring meant pursuing excellence in my studies. Now it means living out God’s grace as a wife, parent, and economist. Endurance means different things for everyone because we are all called to different vocations and we all face different trials.
I look back on my days as a student and wonder why I cared so much. Did God care about the results of my report card? Does God care about whether I’m a good economist?
Yes, he does.
As Christians, we know that we are building the kingdom of Christ, which he will perfect when he returns. He expects us to pursue building the kingdom with integrity and excellence.
You are contributing to kingdom-building as a waitress, mother, CEO, teacher, or security guard. This requires endurance because life is hard, and we are fallen people. The beauty is that you can advance the kingdom by being a hairdresser. You don’t have to be the president or a senator or on the Forbes Richest list.
This is a great relief to me. It reminds me that I can make eternal contributions in the often mundane tasks of life. By being the best economist I can be, I can add my part—and in some ways, I will never know exactly what my part was this side of heaven.
Understanding our skills, talents, and gifts is of critical importance. God calls us to be the best we can be. This is contrary to what the culture tells us: “Be the best in the world.”
The funny thing about a life verse is that we can come to ignore the greater context, the bigger story about the few verses we cling to.
I have been guilty of this. If you read the next verse of Hebrews it says:
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls (Heb. 12:3).
We must consider our work in the bigger context of kingdom-building. We must remember that we will endure hostility from many angles. God knew that we would feel weary and discouraged at times. We have hope because we are not just waiting out our time until we get to heaven. With Christ as our model, we are actually contributing each and every day to the eternal future.
In a recent sermon, my pastor said, “God has View; we have point-of-view.” Remember that none of us is “just a mom,” “just an intern,” or “just a (fill-in-the-blank).” Our callings have eternal significance, but we see only a limited piece of the bigger picture.
Perseverance, faith, and endurance will carry us through. Recognizing that we have important contributions to make through our work can bring us great joy and fulfillment in the “Already…not yet” time in which we live.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about the Bible’s “big picture” in All Things New: Rediscovering the Four-Chapter Gospel.
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On “Flashback Friday,” we take a look at some of IFWE’s former posts that are worth revisiting. This post was previously published on Oct. 12, 2012.