Tuesday, November 28, 2017


“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’ And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’

But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV)

I was a shrinker by nature. When I was a child and teen, I was for the most part passive and avoided risk. While in elementary school, I did not try out for Little League baseball, even though my two older brothers played and I was a batboy. I became a bit braver in 7th Grade and tried out for the football team, but after only a couple of practices, I quit and chose to run cross-country, in which I competed for only one season. Later in middle school, one student bullied me for a whole year, but I never stood up to him, nor ever told my parents or school authorities.

As I grew older, I did become bolder, but even after my decision to follow Jesus, the shrinker in me was always an ever-present shadow.  I remember an off and on struggle with reading my Bible in public, even sometimes in my early years as a campus minister. Of course, this was long before Bible apps where you can read the Scriptures while looking like everyone else who is gazing at their phones. I often shrunk back fearing what other people in the coffee shop or restaurant would think. 

I also shrunk back as a single person. Instead of embracing my singleness and the freedom it brought in time and responsibility—freedom that could have easily been used in service to the Lord—I sought to find a relationship. It was a continual search because I feared loneliness, wanted affirmation, and shuddered at the thought of being single for the rest of my life.  

To call oneself a Christian while being a shrinker is evidence of a lack of faith. We shrink back because we can’t fully trust God.  We dive into an ill-advised relationship because we can’t trust Him to eventually bring along the right person. We go along with the crowd because we fear the cost of standing out. We are full of worry and anxiety because we feel the need to control our lives rather than give them over to the Lord. At the root of all of these is a lack of faith.

The Hebrew writer has just listed many of the challenges his readers were facing—severe persecution in many forms. He is exhorting them not to shrink back in fear and distrust, but to keep living in confidence their faith would be rewarded. And as a further motivator, he warns of the dire consequences of being a shrinker. This should serve as a motivator to all of us who are inclined to shrink back when we face adversity.  God can be trusted, so we must walk by faith rather than by sight.

Today, if you are one who tends to shrink back, know the Lord can be trusted in the midst of whatever you fear. In faith, push on; don’t shrink back. Living by faith is the path on which we will find the rewards so long promised us. It is by far not an easy path, but it is the best one.

© Jim Musser 2017

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