"let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"
I am not sure how many of you are fishermen, but I have never been much of one. It is not that I have been opposed to it, it is just that I have never had any success in the fishing ventures that I have undertaken. I have fished in ponds, lakes, the ocean, and I am anxious to try ice fishing now that we live in Michigan. I am hoping that since the fish will be freezing cold that they will come toward the hole in the ice as a way to find heat near the light. Not a real scientific thought perhaps, but I can't help but think I would want to go near the light that peered brighter through the hole in the frozen ceiling of my aquatic home. But I digress from my intended point.
I have always been fascinated by the salmon. Even when I was a meat eater I never cared for salmon as a food, but I have always been intrigued by their desire to swim against the current to spawn. It is quite a task to go against the flow of the water in order to go back up stream. Apart from the slower moving pools along the way, the salmon must work constantly against the water that seeks to wash it back down stream. If the salmon were to give up they would be defeated and forced to go with the current. Their work is not a static thing that just happens on its own. It is something that takes concerted effort on their part. Eventually the salmon will reach the area in the river or stream to which they long to return. Eventually, their efforts pay off and they are able to spawn and move on with their little salmon lives.
I think we too as Christians have to learn to swim against the flow of society. The world around us would have us swept away into the conformity that it longs to perpetuate. But as we have studied recently in Romans 12, God does not want us to be conformed to-or become like-the world. The Lord told us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Our race in this life is much like the salmon's in that we too must keep moving forward. A stagnant Christian is a dying Christian. Yes, we may have to take time out to recharge and rejuvenate, but we must not linger too long in the pool of complacency. We must always be mindful of the race that is set before each of us. I find it very interesting that Paul tells us to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us". Imagine the salmon trying to swim up-stream having a long string with weights attached to his back. It would be very difficult to navigate through the rocks and other debris that is naturally found in the water. That is not even considering the jumps that they do to go up and over larger obstacles. It would not take long before the salmon would become entangled and trapped; left to die of starvation or predator attack. How much more easily do we as professed Christians allow the encumbrances and sins in our lives to weight us down? Then is exhausted surrender we give up on the Lord and get washed away in the stream of life. Sometimes we even become angry with God and blame Him for our short comings and our failures to surrender our lives completely to Him.
Friends, I want to encourage you today to take your weights and sins and cast them at the feet of Jesus. He stands ready and willing to cut loose the chains that bind us and He longs to take our heavy load and give us His light burden (Matthew 11:30) so that by His strength we can finish the race that He has called us to complete. By His grace and love we will find the encouragement that we need to keep swimming so to speak. Friends, don't you long to have rest? Don't you long to have victory in your life? Why not come to Jesus afresh today and give your cares and worries to Him. In Luke 12:25 Jesus asks us which one of us can add one hour to our life's span by worrying. Let today be the day that you relinquish your worry to the One who is able to bear you up on eagle's wings (Exodus 19:4).
Dear Father God,
As we come to You in prayer right now, we want to say thank You for the many blessings in our lives. Though we may have sickness and financial troubles today, You stand ready to give us the peace that surpasses all understanding. The enabling factor is to not be anxious for anything, but in all things to pray and give You thanks and glory. Please take away our burdens today and give us the strength and the courage that we need to finish the race that we have begun with You. Please take away our sins and wash us white as snow just now. It is in the holy name of Jesus that we pray, Amen.