Written by Todd Mangum
Thursday, 20 September 2012 00:00
One’s walk with God is challenged over the course of one’s life by “dragons and nits,” observe Brent Curtis and John Eldridge (The Sacred Romance, 150-52). “Dragons” are the crises that shake one to the core: a death or family tragedy, an accident or illness, loss of a job or dashed dream, a devastation of fire or disaster. “Nits” are the small but regular irritations of life, the aggravations of common circumstances, inevitable disappointments in people or frustrations of plans.
Dragons are fire-breathing and can burn one to a crisp in an instant. Nits — a euphemism for lice actually — are the irritating itches that are not life-threatening in themselves but can drive you nuts over time.
The call of faith — the call of God the Father; the call of Jesus; the summoning of the Spirit — is a call to endure, to bear both crises and common irritations with patience and hope, dignity and grace, to persevere to the end without wavering.
It’s harder than it sounds, isn’t it? (In fact, I’d argue the only way to actually do it is by supernatural means.) It’s certainly easier said than done.
After recounting the “heroes of faith” in Hebrews 11, here’s the punch-line application at the beginning of Hebrews 12:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”
What’s the biggest challenge to your faith — the dragons or the nits? A cross that seems just too heavy to bear, too torturous to endure? The fear of ridicule? Embarrassment? Hostility of unbelievers? Or just plain weariness? Disappointments and frustrations that just wear you down over time? Are you in danger of losing heart?
I need the Hebrews 11 and 12 reminder often — not least because sometimes the Christian life can just feel lonely. Am I the only one who feels this? Am I the only one who gets this anguish of soul, who seems naturally to recoil at either the greatness of the cost or the length of the race?
Hebrews 11 and 12 both comfort me and kick me in the pants. In part because I appreciate that these Scriptures pull no punches as to just how great the challenge is or how wearying the road of faith is to travel. How about you?
Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical. He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention. Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/todd-mangum