"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
I want to share a part of my story with you. I grew up in a home with domestic violence and sexual abuse. My father was absent from my life, and I was raised by two controlling and abusive step-fathers. My mom was the stable parent in my life, but she was controlling and abusive, as well. Nonetheless, I clung to her and would do anything for her.
At the age of 12, I was baptized. I loved the Lord and brought that into my marriage. My wife and I brought our children to church. I sat in the pews and received the message from the pastor, lead bible study, and taught Sunday school. But, I never brought the Gospel out of the church.
My mom died when I was 45, and I didn’t shed a tear for a year and a half. During that time period, I became very angry and didn’t know why. I screamed out to Jesus for help, but instead of fixing what was going on around me, He pointed me inward. He showed me I had bitterness and resentment in my heart that was weighing me down and holding me back from being the man, the husband, the father to my kids He wanted me to be.
Once I took the focus off of myself and put it on Christ, He revealed in me my sin. It was through repentance that the weight was lifted off of me. And because of that freedom, I found myself taking Jesus outside of the church. I started sharing the healing that only the Gospel can bring with other hurting people.
Jesus poured out his blood through beatings and torture and gave up his body at the humiliation of the Cross. He took every sin that would weigh us down and nailed them to the cross with Him.
It is this life of freedom I am reminded of every morning and the life I want to help my Native brothers and sisters find.
Almighty Jesus, thank you for taking the weight of my sins from me. Help me to stay focused on you so I can continue to share your healing with those who hurting in my world. In your holy name, Amen.