And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
When I first started using a camera to do more than make a snapshot of a memory, I had no idea what aperture was or how it impacted a photograph. I was content to just put the controls on automatic and let the camera make the decisions. While this can make a good image, it takes away your freedom to create something that communicates what you feel. As I have spent lots of time taking pictures I have learned, along with other things, what an aperture is and have developed a confidence in my knowledge of the camera and photography editing software. This knowledge has allowed me to become freer when I take an image. Before I learned to use a camera I would have never even thought about taking an image on a rainy, dreary day like this one. But on this day, I saw this bright colored boat and I had the confidence to try to capture the feeling of seeing the boat; the juxtaposition of the dreary day and the single boat named “Morning Sun.” I hope my image makes you think about that for a while like it did me.
Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy while in prison, reflecting on his life as a way of encouraging Timothy to keep going. His words of encouragement explain why, even though he was in prison and probably facing his death very soon, he was able to offer those words. Over his life journey with Christ he had come to know him and was confident that Jesus would always guard him until he was safely with him, whenever that day was. His confidence gave him a freedom that transcended the bars of his prison cell - a freedom from fear and anxiety, a freedom to write these beautiful, encouraging words to Timothy. The more we know whom we have believed in, the more we develop a confidence that leads to freedom. Just like with Paul, it doesn’t happen instantly but instead over much time. The more we know him, like the more I know my camera, the more we can create lives that communicate the love of Christ.
Walk with us today. Increase our confidence in You and make us free to share your love.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Recently I have been walking on the trails at the dam close to where I live every morning. Each day I walk I see the ‘regulars’; some of them I know by name and some only by seeing them everyday. We all walk different routes and at different speeds; some run; some walk slow; some walk alone; some walk with a partner; some walk in specialty running clothes; and some walk in an old T shirt and jeans. Sometimes I get discouraged when I am passed by the same person and wonder how they can walk that fast. Even in the early morning I get hot and tired and wonder if I am going to make it back to the car. There are times when I just think I am going to sleep late today; but then I get up and see the beautiful morning light and decide to make the effort to walk. There is a joy in my morning walk that I truly miss, even the 265 stairs to the top of the dam in the middle of my walk.
The writer of Hebrews wrote to encourage followers of Christ who were becoming discouraged. They were being ostracized by their community and maybe their family and some were facing persecution. To encourage them he tells them of the great cloud of witnesses that have come before. None of the heroes he described in the previous chapter were without fault. They all followed God at different speeds, some quickly, some slowly, some were important and some were unimportant, and some required signs of assurance from God. Their lives weren’t perfect like this picture I just snapped with my phone; but like my picture they saw a way marked out before them and they kept walking. They walked toward a God who loved them.
Dear friends let me encourage you to keep walking when you are hot and tired and discouraged. Your walk doesn’t have to be perfect; you won’t always have get a good picture. Some will pass you and sometimes you will walk alone. Even in the hard times, the 265 steps straight up times, you will find joy when you fix your eyes on Jesus.
Jesus, Who Endured All For Us,
Thank you for all the strong witnesses that have surrounded me in my life. Forgive the sins I sometimes cling to and keep me walking toward the light and joy of Jesus who endured all for us.
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
Fall is a season of transition; the hot days of summer give way to the beginning days of winter. You can feel the change in the crisp air and beautiful blue skies. The leaves change their color from green to reds and golds, each tree at its own pace. Just as we feel the changing of the seasons, Elisha knew that day that change was coming for his mentor, Elijah. Somehow he knew that Elijah was leaving before the prophets of Jericho told him. He knew that it would be the last time that he would see his mentor. We know that Elisha felt deep grief because he tore his clothes in two places. And after he grieved he picked up the cloak of his master and walked into his new beginning as the prophet of God. We all have transitions in our lives; some are joyful and some are sorrowful. Like Elisha sometimes we will grieve. It isn’t easy to trust God when big changes come in our lives just like it wasn’t easy for Elisha. Still he walked forward. He knew that God had been faithful to Elijah and that God had promised to walk with him. We may not have the stunning experience of a cloak falling from a fiery chariot, but still God speaks to us through his word and through the encouragement of others.
Lord of Transitions
Thank you for mentors and friends who have modeled for us what it is like to walk with you. Guide us through times of transition when we grieve over the ending of something we have loved and give us courage to walk forward to a new beginning.
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