12 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.
–Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in my blog that I had certain songs that would inspire me, calm me, or simply make me happy. This verse is like those songs to me. It has been one of my favorites since I was in college and it so fits our situation today!

Last week our 6th graders were devastated by the announcement that their Capstone trip to Washington, D.C. had been canceled because of the Corona Virus. On Friday morning, we held Lutheran Schools Week Worship. We all sat in silence and amazement as each one of those 6th graders stood, and one-by-one shared the blessing they have found within the disappointment. They totally took their sadness and found a way to appreciate what they had just gone through. They modeled their “best selves” for those younger students who looked up to them every day at school.

We all are called to be like those 6th graders and “model our best selves” to a world paralyzed by fear, anger, denial, and worry. The verses from Hebrews cheers us on. It gives us a recipe as to how we can be strong and persevere during this time. I’d like to share with you some of the wisdom these verses hold to help us “endure” and “become our best selves” during this strange time.

  1. (Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses…) Imagine those in your life who are your best supports…who always gave or gives the encouragement that you “can do it?” Put those people in your mind…look at each one in your “head” and imagine them shouting encouraging things to you as you go through these days and those ahead.
  2. (Throw off everything that hinders us…) What is keeping you from being your “best self?” Is it watching the news too much? Is it sitting and stewing? Is it listening to someone in your family go on and on about negative things that they cannot change…like the news? Then take control. Stop listening to the news so often. Get up and do something different; clean, walk around; draw, make something, cook, learn something new. Interrupt people who are dragging you down with the negative things and put in something positive…or simply stop listening and read a book.
  3. (Let us run with perseverance…) What stories of people do you know that demonstrated strength and perseverance during hard times? My favorite this year is Sir Earnest Shackleton. I read a book about him called, The Endurance. In 1914, he tried to lead 27 men across Antarctica. They were not able to complete their journey, but their journey to make it back home was beyond grueling and amazing.
    It was Shackleton’s leadership that made all the difference. Now I’m reading a book called, Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer. The hardships those explorers endured was beyond my imagination. Yet, they did it and survived! Shackleton, the “boss,” led them with wisdom and constant care for them. Just as God leads us through anything we must “endure.” Thinking of people like this and a God who leads us all helps us to persevere!
  4. (Fixing our eyes on Jesus…) Where is your focus right now? Are you focused on yourself and your fear or worries? It might be time to change your focus from First talk about it. When you have worries or fears trapped in your mind, they are bigger than you and grow stronger than you every day. But when you share your fears and worries with someone or say them out loud, then they are outside of you and you can shape them, color them, see them from different angles, and make them smaller!! The best way, is to talk to those fears and worries. Name them and tell them, “You are not going to be stronger than me anymore!”
    Use a strong voice. Try a power pose. Stand in front of the mirror and throw your arms straight up in the air like you are crossing the finish line. Do this several times a day when you need to feel strong. This is fixing your eyes on Jesus. Remember when he was with Satan in the desert? Satan was tempting him all over the place. Finally, Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan!!” He used a strong voice and a power pose and meant it. Guess what…Satan slinked away.

We have a God who is there for us whether we are stuck at home because of a Corona Virus or stranded 1,000 miles from civilization, on an iceberg in Antarctica!! Read this verse, Hebrews 12:1-3 over and over.

Draw what it might look like for you…make a song about it…act it out…live the strength it gives you. Then let me know what blessings you discover inside this strange time. We can all model our best selves.