by Ben Barczi
I’ll start off with an admission: sometimes, I feel like God is asking too much. Some days it’s all I can do to keep from being a total grouch to everyone around me. And here comes the call of discipleship: become like Jesus!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels too much to ask that I be a student of Jesus. I want to give up and settle for just squeaking by into heaven, thank you. (I have to imagine that some of you can resonate with me here.)
That’s why it feels fitting to me that we’re starting this year of blogging on November 1: All Saint’s Day. We have a great bunch of families who are preparing to share their journey through the year with you, and I’d love nothing more than for all of us—readers, bloggers, and editors alike—to set all of this right in the middle of the long, long family of saints.
Because I need to hear that a lot of people, just as doubtful and frayed and sketchy as I am, discovered the eternal kind of life that God promises. It wasn’t easy, but it was good. And there they stand—centuries of them—encouraging me to join the with-God party.
Eugene Peterson helps me see this in his translation of Hebrews 11-12, what we know as the Hall of Fame:
I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . . Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection…
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
All Saints is the day we take a look back and remember—we’re not the first ones on the scene. Others went before us. And they’ve left us records over millennia that God is good. That God is loving. That God helps us. That God is with us. That life with God is really good.
And that, my friends, shoots some adrenaline into my soul.
This year we’re living the story of Jesus: Birth, life, teaching, healing, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension. We’re going over the story again. And again. But as we do, let’s remember that we’re part of a long family, who have spent centuries going over the story again and again. And let’s take courage—just like God was with them, he is with us. Amen!
Today, take time to tell each other stories of someone you know whose life shows God’s goodness. (Maybe a relative, or a friend, or a teacher. If you have a picture, all the better.) What do these stories teach you?