It’s easy to forget. We go through some major event, either positive or negative, that at the time feels like it’s going to change everything about our lives. And it does. For a little while. But then, we start to drift back into doing life the way we used to and before we know it, we’ve really forgotten most of what took place.
In the book “The power of Moments”, authors Chip & Dan Heath talk about the puzzle of memory. Using a trip to Disney World as an example, they suggest texting you every hour and asking you to rate your experience from a 1 to 10, 1 being lousy, 10 being terrific. After the events of the day, getting the kids ready and out the door, riding “It’s a Small world”, waiting line and so forth, you might arrive at an average rating for the day of 6.5. Not bad. But, a few weeks later, if you ask the same person to rate their overall Disney experience, the rating might be a 9. Why? Because we forget. While we might remember it on the day of, over time we start to filter out most of the experiences and remember only a few “peak” moments.
We forget a lot of information. As a pastor, one of the “blessings/frustrations” I experience is related to people forgetting. I’ll have said something a hundred times, then someone will share with me a similar phrase from another pastor they heard online as though they’ve just heard it for the first time. No gifted communicator points for me today.
In today’s passage from Hebrews, the author is calling on the people to remember. Their current circumstances are overwhelming them to the point that they are turning away from Christ and turning back to Judaism. But the author seems to have a perspective on their situation that they don’t have. He remembers something they seem to have forgotten, they’ve been through this before.
10:32-35 “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”
Remember. He challenges them to remember what it was like when you first became believers. Remember how you endured great conflict which was full of suffering. Remember how you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution. Remember the times that you stood side by side with your brothers and sisters who were being persecuted. Remember how you suffered with those who were imprisoned for their faith in Christ.
Remember how you joyfully let your persecutors confiscate your property because your mind was set on something far greater than your possessions. Remember! Don’t throw away your confidence now, it is going to be richly rewarded.
It’s easy to forget. I have shared things with people, significant, life-moments only to have them be forgotten. I have bared my soul to some to have them forget the next time we meet. At the same time, I have had people share things with me and I forget. There are some people I served alongside for years in ministry, but then I run into them 10 years later and I can’t remember their names. I should and it kills me that I don’t.
Notice the repetition of the word confidence. He used that word in verse 19, talking about how we have confidence to enter the most holy place. He also used the word assurance in verse 22.
The author is calling them to remember so that they can persevere through whatever difficulty lies ahead. Remember your faith in the beginning. “Remember the confidence you had to stand beside those who were being persecuted. You weren’t turning back then, so don’t do it now! You need to persevere! The only ones who will inherit the promise are those who persevere. The reward is reserved for the those who persevere. God doesn’t delight in those who give up on the journey. He takes pleasure in those who live by faith.”
There are a couple more nautical terms in this passage that really help to bring it to life.
First, “Do not throw away your confidence”. The phrase “throw away” means to throw something overboard. It’s similar to the word used in Acts 27:18 where the ship was taking such a beating that they started to throw the cargo overboard. The author is saying, “don’t throw your confidence overboard just because the storm is raging hard around you!”
Then the author uses the phrase “Shrink back” twice at the end of chapter 10. Once in a quote and then in a declarative statement “We do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed.” The phrase means to reef back the sails, which means reducing the area of the sail by folding or rolling one edge of the canvas in on itself. While reefing can improve the performance in strong winds, it is the primary safety precaution in rough weather.
I love it. This idea conjures up such an incredible image in my mind in regards to our faith.
We are out in the see, our heading is firmly set on the secure hope of Jesus Christ, anchored in the haven of God’s rest. Our hope is set, but the storm is raging and it’s only getting stronger. We are getting tossed back and forth by the waves. The storm is so strong that we can’t see the shore. We know we’re on the same heading, but there are no landmarks, no stars, not points of navigation to see. All we have is the faith that we are still going in the right direction.
We aren’t alone in the storm. There are other ships around us. We can see them on the same journey as we are. We can see their ship being beaten by the waves, violently rocking back and forth. The savage, uncontrollable storm is relentless against any ship in the fleet.
The storm is persistent and rages on. We grow weary of the storm and start to wonder if we are going to make it through. Are we going to survive or will we be lost out at sea forever. The more we endure the storm, the more doubts start to rise in our minds about our survival. We start to notice one ship throwing things overboard, then they reef the sails. Then another, then another. Before long, ships are turning back. They have decided that the cost is too high to get into the harbor.
Then the captain comes over the intercom and with a loud and confident voice, shouts out “We do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed. We are those who live by faith and are saved!”
Instead of cowering at the power of the storm, we stand strong in the confidence of the savior. We firmly plant our feet on the deck, we grab hold of the rope and we let out the sails. We don’t shrink back from the storm, we turn the storm on it’s head and use it to push us forward in our faith. We don’t shrink back, we go forward with confidence. We will not be shaken by the power of the waves because we have already been rescued. We will not fear that the storm could take our life because we know that that is what awaits for us in the harbor. And as far as the Governor of the harbor is concerned, my ship is already anchored. My status is secure, I have absolutely nothing to fear.
“Let out the sails, sail on ahead with confidence. Your heading has not changed and the destination has not moved. Keep on through the storm and you will receive what has been promised. For in just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay!”