Braces & Tourniquets

The writer to the Hebrews discusses this need to run wild and free, and as I think of running two powerful images come to mind: Phoebe & Forest.

Phoebe; not Paul's commended friend, Phoebe, in Romans 16...Phoebe Buffay from the '90's. "Didn't you ever run so fast, you thought your legs were gonna fall off; like when you were running toward the swings, or running away from Satan?!"

It's a great picture of running wild and free, but freedom is more than a choice in the moment, more than personal fiat. It requires liberation. And liberation for us is Christ's ongoing, good & joyful work within the community of saints - the church. 

Liberation to Run in Hebrews 11 & 12

Remember that scene in Forest Gump? It's the famous, "Run, Forest, Run!" and "You may not believe me if I told you...but I can run like the wind blows!" scene. If you don't remember it, watch it here, and get ready for all the feels. If you haven't seen the movie, stop what you're doing, and go watch it.

 Run, Forest! Run!

Run, Forest! Run!

There's more here than just that lump in your throat. Forest's braces are a perfect visual of what should happen for our communities over time. Our hobble, should become and awkward gate, and that gate, should become a side-swinging jog, but if we're going to run, the braces need to fall off. 

But his braces weren't always encumbering. In fact, earlier in his life, they helped him stand up straight, at a time when his back was a "crooked as a politician." The braces actually helped him stand and walk, but only at first. Eventually, he outgrew a need for them. Over time the braces intended to help him began to hold him back. His braces had become shackles - encumbrances - and they had to be thrown off.

The same thing is true of tourniquets - they are essential in the very short-term to help slow or stop bleeding. They are essential to survival and healing, but their returns are diminishing. If left too long, they would strangle and leave us with gangrene. Essential in the moment; deadly over time.

Braces often address needs we have while strength increases, and tourniquets handle triage. In our spiritual lives, we may have needs for one or both at different points. Young in your faith? You may need a brace to help bolster you while you grow into things. Blindsided by some deep struggle with sin? There may be tourniquet measures of accountability and control to help "stop the bleeding" in the short term.

Neither of these should become our long-term hope or rest. Both should be employed with a view to depending on them less and less. They may be gifts from your Savior that he uses to move you to greater strength and freedom, but they will become destructive, if trusted to be surrogates for him.

Let's look forward to casting them off and running to follow Christ.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”