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R&V In the Word: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. … When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

Hebrews 12:1-3 MSG

My children are all in double-digits now, which means my house is filled with hormones and sweat and shoes that are all bigger than mine. 

Jesus Christ, Son of God, Light of the World, have mercy on me.

Raising teenagers feels like a daily ride on an indoor roller coaster with all the lights turned off. Who knows what will happen next? It could be anything! From day to day, it feels as if the entire course of the universe could be redirected by one child’s choices, questions, or changed mind. They can slam the door in my face or open the door at ten o’clock at night because they just want to talk. They can say the wisest thing I’ve ever heard and ten minutes later make a fart joke.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, Light of the World, have mercy on me. 

When I find myself reeling by the latest teenage revelation or revolution happening under our roof, I search for the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before me, the parents of teenagers who have weathered the chaotic storm that deposited their children on the other side as mostly happy, mostly well-adjusted young adults. How did you do it? I beg, eyes watering, blubbering, wondering how many more gray hairs I’ll have in the morning. How did you do it, when they break your heart and bless your heart in the breadth of one heartbeat?

That cloud of witnesses, with their faces turned to Jesus, tell me to lead with love.

Jesus didn’t have children by birth, but he had a whole pod of people going through their own spiritual adolescence. They were bewildered, jealous, power-hungry, immature, insecure, and certain of their own righteousness. They made mistakes left and right. They even betrayed and abandoned their best friend.

But the Lord never stopped loving and teaching them, praying the light of love and mercy would reign over all of their fumbling and stumbling. He never stopped loving them, from the ministry field to the tomb to everlasting life.

When the people in our world push us to the edge of ourselves, there’s a shelf of love one step up for us to hang onto, and let go, holding on loosely to these imprints of divinity given to us for our safekeeping.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, Light of the World, have mercy on them, on me, on us.

Points of Reflection

  1. Who stands in your “great cloud of witnesses,” helping to model for you how to walk in faith?
  2. What stories from the Gospels about Jesus are touchstones you return to again and again to encourage your faith?

For the Kids

  1. How does Jesus’ life inspire you?
  2. Who are the older kids in your life that seem like they’re heading in the right direction? What is it about them that you admire?


Identify someone in your “great cloud of witnesses” (“all these pioneers who blazed the way”) and reflect on what it is about their lives that you admire. If they live nearby, invite them to share a meal with you. If not, consider writing them a note or calling them to share what a difference they’ve made in your life. If they are no longer living, journal about their life’s testimony and thank God for the gift of their presence in your life.


Commit over the next two weeks to read a chapter a day from one of the four Gospels to reacquaint yourself with the stories about Jesus’ life to “Study how he did it.”

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