I’m going through something of a mid-life crisis right now. Oh, don’t worry—I’m not running off to buy a cherry-red convertible. I wouldn’t be able to fit all my kids in it anyhow. Nor am I scheduling a facelift quite yet. It’s more of what you might call a time of reflection. Not long ago I attended the funeral of a woman who was twice my age. That was sobering. What if half of my life is already over? Am I living to my fullest potential? Then I thought about my kids. One of them only has four years left at home. Am I teaching him the skills he needs to be a responsible adult? Have I instilled strong morals? a strong work ethic? Have I equipped him to be a faithful witness to a world hostile to the Christian faith? Have I been a faithful witness? Has my life been fruitful and productive? Or have I been selfish with my time?
Time. It’s our most precious nonrenewable resource. But even though we know it’s limited, it’s so easy to waste. It’s so very easy to procrastinate because we reason, “There’s always tomorrow.” And so, too often, we put aside our good intentions for another day. Tomorrow I’ll spend some one-on-one time with my spouse… When the kids are all in school I’ll start volunteering… I’ll invite my neighbor to church when … And so we push things off until a future time, but the longer we push them off, the less chance we’ll actually do something about those intentions.
I rather suspect this is what the writer of Hebrews is talking about when he says, “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…” (Hebrews 12:1). Notice that the things that hinder aren’t necessarily sinful. “Everything that hinders and the sin…” he says. So what is hindering you in your race? Is it fear? Insecurity? Discontentment? Your job? Technology? Other commitments? Perhaps you’re so busy with all the activities in which your kids are involved that you don’t have the energy to drag them to church on Sunday mornings or maintain your own devotional and prayer life. Maybe you’re insecure in your knowledge of the Bible and tell yourself that when you know more, you’ll be better equipped to share Bible stories with your children or witness to your friend who does not know the Lord. Perhaps you spend more time on technology than you care to admit, needing something to keep your mind off work troubles, but you don’t want to admit your usage is becoming excessive and adversely affecting your relationships. Whatever your specific situation, I’m sure you can think of something that is hindering you in your Christian walk.
Lest we get discouraged, let’s continue with the passage from Hebrews, shall we? “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,” Hebrews 12:2 says. You, dear friend, are His joy. He endured the cross for you, so that you could be reconciled to God and could spend eternity in heaven with Him. Oh, the devil tried his hardest to keep Jesus from fulfilling that mission, but Jesus would not be deterred.
There will always be hindrances in the world. The devil will use anything to distract us from the things that really matter. But our solution is easy—fix our eyes on Jesus. Follow His example. When He was overwhelmed with demands on His time, what did He do? Withdrew to pray. (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:15-16) As busy as He was literally saving the world, Jesus took the time to pray to His Father. If we do likewise, we can trust that God will direct our steps to fulfill His purposes in our lives. He will clear our minds of the things that hinder and help us focus on the things that really matter in life.
I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m still toeing the midlife crisis line; still wondering if I’m living up to my potential and making the best use of my time. But I’m working on it. My oldest son and I have started reading through the Bible together before bed. I’m working on a new book idea in the evenings instead of whiling away my time on my phone. I’m trying to be more deliberate in my prayer life. We invited my son’s friend to church. And I think tomorrow I’ll start that new devotional with the kids. Wait—check that. I think I’ll do that today.