When I was in college (back when letters were handwritten and mailed in stamped envelopes), almost every letter I received from my father ended with the words “Press on.” His intent was to encourage me through the hard stuff by constantly reminding me of Philippians 3:13–14: “. . . But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In today’s world, we’re all enduring lots of disruption and change—and it seems to keep coming! It is healthy to acknowledge this is wearing for many of us. Change fatigue is real and can make us wonder how much we can take; more concerningly, it can make us wonder if change is worth it.
When our four kids were born, Shelly and I learned the Lamaze birthing method. During birthing, moms are not in control of their contractions, but they learn to cope with the process by using rightly timed periods of breathing, with resting between contractions. There are times to breathe, times to rest, and times to “go with” the contractions. My part was easier! Even though it wasn’t painful for me physically, my role in helping Shelly focus on the rhythms of breathing through the tough spots and resting in the right spots was helpful—mostly!
The apostle Paul, along with my dad, would remind us all today that there are rhythms that come with “pressing on.”
The word “forgetting” can be misunderstood as a call to deny the pain, loss, or disorientation that comes with change, but that is not what Paul is saying. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul recounts the loss, suffering, imprisonment, and abuse he’s faced. Forgetting is not a matter of denial, but an exercise of “breathing through it” to keep moving through and toward the ultimate goal—”to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s recognize the changes that are wearing on us. Then, let’s breathe and walk through this together. Find, or ask God to provide, someone to partner with you in a “Change Fatigue Lamaze” process.
I encourage you to stay focused on Alliance Women’s goal of “Connecting women to Jesus, the work of The Alliance, and each other for Kingdom impact.”
“Press on.” Do not deny your fatigue or conjure up energy of your own. Rather, remember to breathe and learn to rest.
As you “press on” at the right times, may you share in the joy of bringing about something new.
How Is Hebrews Like a Lasagna?
The Book of Hebrews has three interdependent, repeated themes that are layered like a tasty lasagna.
Every chapter in Hebrews gives reasons for or examples of confidence in God. Layered between these truths and testimonies are stories of people who are being implored to persevere in both faith and relationships.
So, what does this have to do with us today?
Hebrews 3:7–8a reads, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (emphasis added). A hardened heart is “a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12b). An unbelieving heart may be evidence that one is not persevering in faith, while relationships with other believers are key to maintaining both perseverance and confidence.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first (Heb. 3:13–14).
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:23–25).
Chapters 12 and 13 give more examples of how our day-to-day interactions help us persevere in the confidence of our faith. Admittedly, maintaining relationships is difficult with restrictions on gatherings, quarantines, and fragile health. However, we can ask God to give us ideas on how to do this day-to-day, as we all need meaningful, life-giving connections!
I believe that’s why the themes in Hebrews are layered like a lasagna. God knows the weariness life on this earth brings, and He wants to remind us—again and again—just how big, powerful, and understanding He is. At every turn in in this book He redirects our attention to Him, reminding us that we are not alone in this journey.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Heb. 12:1–3).