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…
Hebrews 12:1 NKJV
“The wrestler strips off all but the most minimal clothing before he enters the contest, and confession does the same for the man who is about to plead with God. A racer on the plains of prayer cannot hope to win unless, by confession, repentance, and faith, he lays aside every weight of sin (see Hebrews 12:1).”
Charles Spurgeon, The Power in Prayer
When it comes to making things more complicated than they need to be, I am truly gifted. As a result, I am far more accustomed to be reigned in by God than drawn out. And in that light, Martha’s devotions on what it means to “LET” and the role that this BIG-little word plays in faith have been piercing and slicing away at my natural excess. Hebrews 12:1, coupled with this quote from Spurgeon, is shining a bright light on an area in my life in need of a lot of “LET.”
Confession, repentance, faith – such a clear picture of the straight and narrow path to God. It’s not complicated! When I spend time with God, have I cleared out any obstacles to relationship with Him? Have I even asked Him if there ARE any obstacles? Do I get cleansed first, laying aside every weight? I’ve never really approached my time with the Lord in such simplicity of order.
My life Word is Joel 2:12-13 in the Amplified Bible, and it addresses this very thing, but I missed it. I was focused on the big obstacles, the big crises, so I missed the wisdom for my every day with Him. “Turn and keep on coming to Me with all your heart…until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored.” When I read that, I pictured high-drama because that’s what I’d just come through. There are few bigger crises than discovering that you’re not really born again, and it was in the still-palpable desperation of that very crisis that I asked God for a Word that would speak to me in crisis. And Joel 2:12-13 absolutely does that! But like the God who wrote it, this Word operates on many levels.
The Holy Spirit comes with great clarity and is often deceptively simple. He deals with me one issue at a time. Sometimes it’s a REALLY big issue, and sometimes it’s a bite-sized deal. Either way, He’s not given to excess and unnecessary complications. He’s not a butcher; He’s a Surgeon.
For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 KJV
Did you know that you can make a law of dramatic dealings? I’ve done it! My early experiences of repentance were gut-wrenching, soul-tearing sessions—very naturally dramatic given what I was seeing. But I believed that that’s what repentance ALWAYS looks like. So when I dealt with things in less dramatic fashion, I wondered if I was really repentant. Had my heart grown cold? Did I no longer care as He cared? I was locked into a law of what repentance should be, and I didn’t even know it!
Confession, repentance, faith – and the race is ready to be run. Some days are harder than others, but they needn’t be more complicated. God keeps it simple because we need it simple. And because we can mess up even the simple. The beauty of Joel 2:12-13 is that confession, repentance and faith are all accounted for and laid out in perfect order – and not just because I’m foolish and sheep-y and in need of a paint-by-numbers kind of instruction. I tend to forget, but our Father wants the broken fellowship restored, too. Simple and clean and straight down the path tells me that God doesn’t want any obstacles between us. How better to say, “This is the way, now come on home! I’m waiting for you.”