Words have eluded me for the past few weeks. So much has changed in our world since January. Nothing is the same as it was when Aaron, Jude, and I rang in the new year excited about all 2020 would hold. Very little of what we hoped and dreamed and planned for this year has or will come to fruition. And some days this reality coupled with the ongoing unrest and injustice in our world is crippling; all I want to do is climb back in bed and pull the covers over my head. Maybe the next time I crawl out of bed everything will be better somehow.
But as I sit here realizing the year is nearly half spent and normal is but a distant memory, the sun rises, turning the clouds a brilliant shade of pink. Morning comes. A new day dawns regardless of the fires raging in our world. And the sheer normalcy and regularity of this is comforting to my weary soul.
I am reminded of these words from the writer of Hebrews:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us…So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak will not fall but become strong.”
-Hebrews 12:1, 12-13.
One of the projects we have completed during our extended time at home is a rock climbing wall in our backyard. (When everyone else was stocking up on toilet paper, we bought a bunch of wood.) Aaron has always wanted a workout wall at our house to hone his skills and get in better climbing shape. And we have embarked on this climbing adventure as a family, spending our evenings honing our skills and learning to set routes that challenge and develop our climbing muscles.
One thing I have learned through this endeavor is endurance. As I reach a difficult part of a climbing route, I can easily become overwhelmed by how high I am or frustrated by my lack of muscles. And when that happens, I have two choices. I can take the easy way and stop moving forward and drop to the ground, or I can adjust the position of my feet and hands, take a new grip, push my muscles to grow a bit stronger, and keep going.
Sandwiched in the middle of these verses in Hebrews 12 is a discussion about God’s discipline. Growth whether physically or spiritually takes discipline. And sometimes that discipline comes in the form of correction and conviction and other times discipline comes in the form of endurance- enduring on the path set before us and clinging to the wall even when it would be easier to drop to the ground and give up.
We may not like where we find ourselves. The new normal of mask wearing and social distancing is not fun. The threat of catching this horrid virus may terrify us. The reality of racism running rampant and injustice reigning in our country is horrifying, bewildering, and disgusting. But we must not lose faith. We must not give up. Instead, we must adjust our position, take a new grip, and keep going, loving our neighbors by wearing masks, seeking to stamp out racism wherever it raises its ugly head, standing against injustice, listening, growing, learning, and leaning in to the new normal. 2020 may not be the year we planned, but we worship a God who holds all things together and makes beauty from ashes.
So let us flex our new muscles, breathe deeply, and keep climbing.