Twenty-one years ago, I spent the summer in New York City, serving with other college students in outreaches to inner city children and homeless shelters and urban churches. During my time there, my mentor for the summer–a woman named Lori–shared with me some verses from the New Testament, in the book of Hebrews. Part of that passage (Hebrews 10:24) goes like this: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…”
Hard to believe that more than half my life has passed since that summer. But those verses in the book of Hebrews remain fresh to me.
The idea of “spurring one another on” gives me a vivid mental picture, an image of prodding and nudging and elbowing each other toward doing good.
So this is how I picture being spurred on: .My nine-year-old son sits with my husband and me in church for the first part of the service; then he gets dismissed for his Sunday school class while we stay for the remainder of the church service. When my son hears the words from the pastor, “Third through fifth graders are dismissed,” he launches himself from his seat and runs–literally runs–out of the room to get to his class.
This is all still fairly new to him, and we try to remind him not to run out of the sanctuary (which, for us, is the cafeteria-auditorium of a local school). Not long ago at church, I whispered to him several times not to run. “Try to walk,” I said. “Please don’t run,” I prompted. But when he heard that dismissal for his class not long ago, he zinged out of his chair but actually walked this time. At least for a few steps.
In those moments, I can see the energy just fizzing off of him, although he is showing restraint, as best he can. I watched him all the way on that Sunday, wondering if he could actually keep from running the entire way to his class. When he gets to the back of the sanctuary space–right about even with the cafeteria tables–he meets up with some other children in his class, and those kids just can’t help themselves. Their collective enthusiasm renders them completely unable to hold back. I watch him and the pastor’s son break into a sprint. And I think about how they’re running to something good. Sure, maybe I should remind him again about not running IN church. But he is running TO church. How can I think of tamping that down? He gets back from Sunday school and quizzes me on what he’s learned to determine if I know what he knows. He talks about the language in which the New Testament was written and how many epistles were written by the apostle Paul. No wonder he runs to Sunday school–he loves what he is learning.
The pastor’s words liberating the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to leave for their own class; his love of learning; his opportunity to be with friends–this spurs my boy on toward loving the Lord and being equipped to do good deeds.
I want to respond that way, to fling myself out of my chair and get to the good stuff, learning to love the Lord and to love other people and live out His grace at work in me.