13. Hiking in Hebrews: The Original Ironman

Guess what? We’ve hiked to chapter three! Let’s pause a moment, swig some water, and drink in the view. Who knew we could pull a dozen articles from the first 32 verses? I sure didn’t—but what’s better than a hike full of surprises?
Okay, put away your trail mix, and let’s keep moving…
Do you know what a mnemonic device is? Nope, it’s not a new tech app; it’s a fancy word for a ‘memory trick’ , and I came up with a lot of them while memorizing Hebrews. (If you haven’t noticed, there are a LOT of similar verses and ideas repeated throughout the chapters, and it took some serious mental gymnastics to keep the verses straight.) Some of my ‘devices’ were kind of silly, but hey, they worked.



Here’s what I noticed in our next passage:


Therefore, hOly brOthers, whO share in the heavenly calling, fix your thOughts on Jesus, the apOstle and high priest whOm we cOnfess. He was faithful to the One who appointed him, just as MOses was faithful in all GOd’s hOuse. Jesus has been fOund wOrthy of greater hOnOr than MOses, just as the builder of the hOuse is wOrthy of greater hOnOr than the hOuse itself. …But Christ is faithful as a sOn Over GOd’s hOuse. And we are his hOuse, if we hOld to Our cOurage and the hOpe of which we bOast. (Heb. 3:1-4;6)


(Yes, I know I didn’t highlight every single O. Only the ones I wanted.)



Lots of O’s, right? And what a powerful list of words: HOLY BROTHERS THOUGHTS GOD’S HOUSE MOSES WORTHY HONOR HOLD ON COURAGE HOPE BOAST. No matter how you rearrange these words, throw in some verbs and articles, and you’ve got some awesome thoughts.



Let’s toss a few around. The writer calls us “holy brothers”, and that’s who we are if we’re in Christ: holy and family. If someone refers to you as smart, or kind, or generous, or capable, don’t you want to live up to their words? I sure do! And when GOD tells me I’m holy, I want to live as He describes me.



According to this passage, we are GOD’S HOUSE. This means God lives in us, His people; we in Him, and He in us. That’s worth marveling. Do you feel worthy? Are you keeping your corner of the house bright and clean?



MOSES.  A powerful name, a legendary leader. Worthy of great respect, and the humblest man on earth (Numbers 12:3). But here the writer stresses Moses’ subordinate relationship to Jesus: Moses was merely a servant in all God’s house. I gather some Jews verged on Moses worship, and the Hebrew Christians needed reminding: angels weren’t to be worshiped, nor was Moses or any Old Testament hero. From a basket in the bulrushes to a divine burial, Moses’ life should inspire us. But remember: he lived to point us to Jesus, the true Builder, the true Shepherd, the true Mediator.



THOUGHTS. We’re called to fix our thoughts on Jesus, our apostle and high priest. What we think about shapes our mindset: spiritual or worldly, faithful or distracted. It takes conscious effort to monitor our runaway thoughts and rein them in. I’m going to make another plug here for doing serious memory work. Ruminating on God’s Word makes it easy to train our thoughts heavenward. Our mind has somewhere strong and beautiful to visit, at any given moment. And as we visit God’s country, over and over, we become more like HIM.



HOLD ON (to the COURAGE and HOPE of which we BOAST). When the Bible talks about holding on, I always picture holding on for dear life. As in,



Hold on! We’re getting closer!
Hold on! It won’t be much longer!
Hold on! You won’t regret it!
Hold on! You have no choice!



The Hebrew writer repeatedly urges us to hold on, reminding us what’s at stake. Picture any scene of holding on as a metaphor: holding on to a life rope, to the back of a stampeding horse, to an ice berg in the roar of a dark ocean, to the waist of a powerful angel. Rescue and salvation is promised—but only if we hold on till the end.



Much like the hapless pilgrims in the Wizard of Oz, we’ve been given more than enough courage and hope to make it through. Yet sometimes we forget we have it. We’re tempted to let go, to get lazy, to coast on a tired old faith that hasn’t been watered in ages. But holding on takes our full energy and focus. We can’t afford to coast, to take our hands off the rope, to slide off the horse and see what happens. If we let go, we’ll crash.



Many have remarked that the Christian race is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ll go further and say it’s more like an Ironman triathlon*. We have to engage every muscle in our spiritual body to make it. We have to be flexible, switching from water to land, from bike to foot, from the segment we love to the activity we’re forced to include. We have to run past the relaxed spectators, scratching their heads at our crazy dedication, and ignore the pull to join their rested ranks. We have to push far beyond our natural limits, drawing on a secret source of energy to make the finish line.


Our secret source is Jesus, who aced his Ironman and gives us courage, and the Spirit, who fuels our body and gives us hope.



Are you fixing your eyes on the Source? Are you focusing on the finish line?



Oh, Oh, Oh. I hope you are!



*No, I’ve never done a triathlon, let alone an Ironman. But I’ve watched them, and know folks who do them. Hats off!

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