God recently used my aging eyes to confront me with something I’d lost sight of. Blindsided by yet another bit of discouraging news, I headed to the gym to work out my frustrations. Once my heart rate reached its fat-burning target, I grabbed my iPhone from the book holder in front of me and tapped on my memory verse app.
Rather than reviewing Bible passages I’d already learned, or returning to targeted verses I hoped to memorize, I selected the word “Faith” from the menu of topics, and “Building Faith” from the submenu.
The escalation (and repetition) of the disappointing circumstances that drove me to boost my endorphins with exercise that morning also threatened to knock my faith flat. I knew God’s Word would encourage me.
But as I scrolled through the list of verses, my hopes to find strength vanished when my eyes fell on Hebrews 10:36. To be perfectly honest with you, seeing that particular “address” made me mad.
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.
Then you will receive all that he has promised.
Hebrews 10:36 NLT
The NIV puts it like this:
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,
you will receive what he has promised.
I knew it both ways and didn’t care to hear it either way.
“I can’t believe You’re telling me I need patience,” I muttered as I involuntarily stepped up the pace on the cross trainer. “I HAVE been patient!” I placed my iPhone back on the book holder, grabbed the handles on the endorphin-boosting contraption and exerted my upper body strength.
“God, You know how long I’ve persevered in doing Your will.” I pushed harder and watched the heart rate monitor creep from green to yellow. “I’ve already demonstrated ‘patient endurance’ a million times. So when do I get to receive what You promised?”
My pounding heart entered the danger zone, so I breathed deeply and eased up a little. From a distance my eyes properly focused on the verse offered by the iPhone app.
It didn’t say Hebrews 10:36. It said Hebrews 10:38.
I suddenly felt both old and foolish. I should’ve known a verse like that would never be listed as a “Building Faith” verse. I tapped on the address to bring it up.
(When a verse interrupts your negative thinking with the word “But,” you know God’s Word is alive.)
But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him. Hebrews 10:38 NIV1984
Tears immediately gathered in my refocused eyes. “Anything but that, Lord,” I whispered. “I live to please You, anything but that.”
My pace slowed but my heart rate didn’t. My vision blurred as tears joined the sweat running down my face. “I promise not to shrink back,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”
I picked up my iPhone and tagged Hebrews 10:38 as a targeted verse.
In the noise and activity of that gym, God quietly responded to my confession with undeserved love. And my faith grew stronger.