Broken Yoke Ministries, Inc
Get a Move On
by Bob Van Domelen
Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.
(Hebrews 12.1 TLB)
Although I couldn’t define how or why, I grew up knowing that I was broken in some ways, ways that I kept secret. Yet, if shared or exposed, others might have been willing to help me fix them. But I didn’t share. I just didn’t believe that I could continue to be loved if people I cared about knew my struggles.
Mine was not an uncommon reaction because at the center of my struggles was always the feeling “no one else thinks this way.” And because I believed myself different, I never managed to feel like I fit in. It was, for me at least, like playing duck-duck-goose and never getting to sit down in any part of the circle.
So for me, arrest was not so much an end but a beginning, the opening of my dark secrets closet so that light could fill that space. The price for this ‘freedom’ was tremendous, the pain and feelings of betrayal almost too overwhelming for my victims and for those who knew me - as well as for me. But at the core of this feeling of freedom was the knowledge that God not only loved me but that I was someone precious to him.
Sins that wrap themselves
When I read the opening verse, I was drawn first to the words “sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up.” What confronted me was the idea that the sins were those I had chosen – not only had chosen but had repeated until they became a go-to choice when a specific opportunity arose. Sadly, even though I hated what I was doing, I still chose to do it.
Repetition creates addiction and addiction fosters the idea that there is no choice in the decision. But there is always a choice, even if it doesn’t feel like much of a choice. An addiction, I have learned, can only be overcome by separation from the option to choose as I have chosen so many times in the past. In the race I was running before my arrest, I wrapped my own feet. I gave myself no chance but to trip.
Strip off anything that slows us down
This is where the rubber hits the road, as some might suggest, because the action demands honesty. What if the one thing getting in my way is something I know I can do without but something I would rather keep?
Following surgery for my gall bladder removal, for example, certain foods and drinks (favorites, by the way) caused me a lot of pain or discomfort, so I chose to avoid them. I also found that my appetite was such that I didn’t eat between meals, so one of the good things was the loss of over 25 pounds.
That surgery was done two months ago and I have pretty much healed. The stitches disappeared, my sense of taste is back to normal, and I have found that I am snacking between meals with the same foods and drinks I had been avoiding. I haven’t gained the weight back but neither have I lost more of the excess that I carry around.
My head knows that if I want to continue with the weight loss experienced following the surgery, I need to choose between that and the snacks I like. This isn’t rocket science, as they say, but simple truth. So far, I still snack but I tell myself it is not as bad as before the operation.
Some who write tell me that they continue to fantasize just as they did before they were arrested and they argue that it’s okay because they aren’t doing anything. According to them, there is no victim because they won’t allow that to happen. At the same time, they refuse to strip off anything that slows them down, anything that might prevent opening the door to another victim – almost a certainty without a change in their thinking.
The key for all of us is the honesty we seek to have about our choices and the willingness to follow through despite our desire to cling to whatever it is that slows us down on our journey of faith.
Run with patience
Ask any marathon runner if their third 26.2 mile race is easier than the first and they will tell you, no. In some ways, the third is harder than the first because of a desire to do better than the previous marathon run. Most runners know their strengths and their weaknesses and pay attention to both. What drives them, however, is the finish line – not always ahead of some other runner but crossing that line. For the average runner, crossing the line is the ultimate victory.
What about us? What about me? I am past the age where I would even consider a marathon unless I was driving my car. Paul, however, points to the business of living as well as our personal faith journey when he speaks of the ‘race.’ For the runner, it’s one step at a time; for me, one choice at a time, one minute, hour, or day at a time.
Prison didn’t erase my memory of past choices. It highlighted them. But I did learn that I have a choice and that it is mine to make. So when I go from day to day, the past is still tucked away in some corner of my mind just as are all the things that tempt me. As I frequently write, temptations are a fact of life and no treatment program will eliminate them.
Healthy choices are much easier to make when my life is balanced by a focus on God’s love and grace as well as willingness on my part take care of me. Running the race with patience (and endurance) is trusting that if I fall in any way, I look to God, ask forgiveness, and then get up and continue the journey. I’m not perfect and knowing that simple fact makes reliance on God all the more important.
A huge crowd of men of faith
watching us from the grandstands
Here’s the good part if you are willing to accept it – you are not alone on your journey. I’m not talking about all of us who made shame-filled choices. I’m talking about our cheerleaders – both the saints who have gone before us as well as good men of faith living among us. Though I wish I could say that they are always obvious, I still know they are there but I need to be serious in my search for them.
Two years ago, my wife and I traveled to a state we had wanted to visit and, as luck would have it, there was a marathon scheduled for the week we were there.
On the day of the race, we walked down to what was the finish line and watched as one entrant after another crossed to the cheers of everyone there. Some running, some walking with fatigue, but all had that look on their face that shouted “I made it” coming from some place deep within their being.
What I had not expected was my own reaction to these strangers. I found myself choked up with emotion; tears appeared for no apparent reason; and the same joy the runners felt welled up in me as well – not for me but for them, these strangers. So I clapped and yelled “Well done.”
We have those who would encourage us although they are sometimes hard to find. And because we have those who would encourage us, we need only look at someone in group, in church, in our family, or wherever we happen to be. They are cheering us on. Perhaps not with whoops and pats on the back, but cheering us on nonetheless. And don’t forget, you and I get to be encouragers. We get to be men and women of faith watching from ‘grandstands’. So as my mom used to say, “Bob, get a move on!” That means you, too.