Encroachment

 

The slow, unwavering
deliberate will
subtle encroachment
on all that is evil
immovable
save forward
gentle love
never ceasing

by Derek Bair

 

I get so tired at the continual encroachment of evil. Do you ever feel that way, almost suffocating, tempted to despair?  But did you ever think of God’s encroachment on evil? Like yeast in dough, sometimes we don’t see it, but God is working. And we have a job to do in that work. To resist evil – both in ourselves and in the world – to persevere through hopelessness, to keep on believing, to keep doing good. To push back against wrong, knowing that we fight with that gentle, unceasing love that never fails.

He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:33 (NIV)

“Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.”  Oswald Chambers

 

Poem and image copyright 2019 Derek Bair, all rights reserved

Dig and Dig Deep

It takes digging deep to get down to the Rock and build on His strength, in order to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Trying to love in our own strength is like building on the wave and tide-eroded sands, ever-changing with our emotions, moods, and circumstances.

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. Luke 6:48 (NIV) 

 Two Greek words are used in the verse to describe how this person dug. The first word is skapto (σκάπτω), which simply means to dig. The second word is bathuno (βαθύνω), which means to dig deep, or deepen. Therefore, the Greek actually reads that he dug and dug deep, or deepened [the hole] until he got down to the rock. I think Jesus is saying that in order to put the Word into practice we have go farther than a few inches below the surface, the easy, softer stuff, and down into the hard, undisturbed, unplowed, full-of-gravel part. Anyone who has ever tried to hand-dig a new garden bed knows what I mean. Sod and rocks and tree roots need to be removed. You would have to dig through all of that and then dig very deep to get down to the bedrock. 

As an aside, the verb bathuno comes from bathus, an adjective that means “profound,” “deep,” and, interestingly, “very early.” Bathus is the word used in Luke 24:1, “On the first day of the week, very early (bathus) in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.” As in the digging deep picture, two words are used here to emphasize how early it was. It reads that they came at early dawn – very early. John says it was still dark (John 20:1). Mark 16:2 uses a word that means it was greatly or exceedingly, exceedingly beyond measure, sore early (maybe Mark was not a morning person?). The women didn’t just come at dawn, they came very early, they went deep, and, consequently, they received the message from the angel, and saw Jesus (Matthew 28:9, Mark 16:9). 

Back to digging. The root word of both bathuno and bathus is baino, the Greek word that means “to walk.” What does digging have to do with walking? In Luke 6:48 Jesus says the man “laid (tithemi) the foundation (themelios) on rock.” Tithemi and themelios are the same words that are used in 1 John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 3:11. 

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid (tithemi) down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16 (NIV) 

 For no-one can lay (tithemi) any foundation (themelios) other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 (NIV) 

Jesus Christ, and his life laid down in love for the salvation of the world, is the foundation, and no other can be laid. He is also the Rock upon which this foundation is laid. We have to dig deep to lay this foundation in our lives, but if we do, the promise is that we will not be shaken. We will not fall when the storms come. It takes digging deep to get down to the Rock and build on His strength, in order to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Trying to love in our own strength is like building on the wave and tide-eroded sands, ever-changing with our emotions, moods, and circumstances. Doubt creeps in, and rightly so, when we are standing on our own shifting, sinking strength. 

 What does it mean to “dig deep?” For me, it means not just to surface-read the Bible and check off a box that I did it. Rather, it means to study it and then ask the Author what it means for my life, how he wants me to put it into practice and walk it. 

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:23-25 (NIV) 

 Digging deep is hard. Hard ground, rocks and (bitter) roots make it even harder. Hardness of heart, unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, wrong-thinking, self-centeredness, pride, idolatries, unthankfulness, anger at God must be dug and pulled out. Maybe some structures will need to be demolished (see Sawdust). But the more you do that, the more you walk out what you are learning, the softer the ground gets, the easier to dig, and, along the way, the more the good seed from the Word can put down roots and produce fruit. Persevere, keep digging deep, get down to the Rock. He is the firm foundation. You will not be disappointed.  

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2 (NASB)

 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:18-19 (NIV) 

So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” Isaiah 28:16 (NIV

 

Image is in the Public Domain

Command Joy

“Considering” afflictions as joy is not a victimized resignation or an unpalatable duty. It is leading with joy, commanding joy, it is taking authority [over self] and ruling, deeming, esteeming, judging my testing and trials as joy.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3 (NASB)

Wait! Don’t delete yet. I know, this is probably everyone’s least favorite verse in the Bible. I know I have secretly heard an accusing “You should” at the beginning of this verse. It is a very hard verse and one that I have wrestled with. Amplified a little it says:

Consider it all – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything – joy when you encounter or fall into as to be encompassed, fall into something that is all around, be surrounded with various trials, or putting to proof, knowing that the testing, or proving or trial, of your faith produces endurance – steadfastness, constancy, cheerful or hopeful endurance.

I have been there, fallen down the hole, encompassed, surrounded with affliction and trouble. “Consider it all joy” sounds almost flippant when you are having a very hard time seeing light let alone joy. But looking at the Greek meanings of some of the words in this verse, especially the word translated “consider,” helps a lot in our understanding.

First, what is joy? The Greek word for joy is chara and means cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness.i It also means “joy, gladness, the cause or occasion of joy, of persons who are one’s joy.”ii People who are our joy, as when Paul wrote the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:20), “Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” It is the word Jesus used when he said, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7 NASB). And also in Hebrews 12:2 where it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And in Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Jesus is the treasure in the field and we find Him with joy. So, we are His joy and He is ours. He promised to be with us always, through all the trials, and in His Presence there is fullness, abundance, satiety of joy (Psalm 16:11b).

The last word in James 1:3, translated “endurance,” is hupomone in the Greek. Hupomone means cheerful, or hopeful endurance, perseverance, steadfastness, constancy. The very root of hupomone is the word meno, which means to abide or remain, as in abiding in the Vine (see The Art of Remaining Present). The only way we can learn to endure or persevere through refining and pruning, is to remain present, remain in the Vine.

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful … Remain (meno) in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me … I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15: 1-2, 4, 11 NIV)

So, it is possible to have joy in troubles, knowing that God is pruning us and that the pruning makes us more fruitful in this life, and it means that he considers us his children (Hebrew 12:5-8), and that, most wonderfully, he is always with us through it all.

And lo! (behold! see!) I am with (amid, among, together with) you always (daily, individually and collectively, all manner, all means, thoroughly, whatsoever, wholly, whosoever), to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b (NASB)

Through all those “alls” in “consider it all joy,” he is there with us.

But, the most amazing, and hardest word, in this verse is the one translated “consider.” Many English words seem wimpy and almost apathetic in comparison to the original languages. The Oxford English Dictionary defines consider, in this context, as to “regard (someone or something) as having a specified quality.” So, the verse would say, Regard troubles and afflictions as having the quality of joy. Or, it can mean “believe; think,” as in, Believe it all joy. It also means to “look attentively at,” as in, Look attentively at joy when you encounter various trials. Finally, it can mean to “take (something) into account when making an assessment or judgment.” So, the verse could say, Take joy into account when assessing or judging the meaning or value of your afflictions.

Those last two English meanings are getting very close to the Greek, but still not everything that I need when I am sinking over my head and reaching up for the third and last time for something to grab unto – all but “look attentively at,” if what I am fixing my eyes on is the joy of Jesus. But the original Greek word, hegeomai, is amazing.

I was so surprised to find out that the word translated “consider” in this verse has a prime and root meaning of “to lead.” Strong’s defines it as, “to lead, i.e. command (with official authority); figuratively, to deem, i.e. consider,” to “(be) chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over, suppose, think.” So James 1:2 could say, “Lead with joy” or “Command joy.” It means to command in an official authoritative capacity, and in that capacity to judge or assess. It means to rule over, to govern. So, what does this mean? “Considering” afflictions as joy is not a victimized resignation or an unpalatable duty. It is leading with joy, commanding joy, it is taking authority [over self] and ruling, deeming, esteeming, judging my testing and trials as joy. This verse is not unlike the psalmist’s command to self in Psalm 42:5 (NASB):

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.

This is still not any easy thing to do. But fixing my eyes on Jesus – as the joy set before me, as he fixed his eyes on me – makes it easier. Douglas Taylor, when dying of liver cancer, wrote in his blog (Works Worth Declaring Oct. 11, 2012), “[Thomas] Watson has some very encouraging things to say [in his book, All Things for Good, 1663]. He actually affirms that afflictions make us happy. How can that be? The answer is that, if they are blessed to us, they bring us nearer to God … When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ.”

Help me Lord not to sink in despair and self-pity, but to lead with joy, to command joy, and to swim faster to You.

i Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible ii Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

Image copyright Sheila Bair 2018

Hope Deferred

Love happens in the pain of hope, in the gritting of teeth and walking forward carrying the cross.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

Have you ever felt heart-sick waiting for a prayer to be answered, a dream to come true, for the longing of your heart to be fulfilled? The Hebrew word in this verse translated “deferred” is mashak (מָשַׁך) which means to draw out, postpone, drag along. The waiting for hope to be fulfilled can definitely feel like that. But this word also has a surprising positive meaning too. It means to draw back the bow or to trail seed, as in drawing out seed from the bag and sowing it along behind you. In a previous post I explored how praising God is like shooting arrows (see notes on the Hebrew word yadah Prisoners of Hope). So, drawing back the bow is getting ready to praise Him for what we hope He will do. Keeping on believing and hoping, no matter what, no matter how long, is also a way of sowing seeds of life in others.

The word translated “sick” in the above verse is chalah (חָלָה) which means rubbed or worn, weak, sick, afflicted, grieved, diseased, in pain, but also to pray and make supplication, and a woman in travail. It is the same word as in Isaiah 53:10:

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer (chalah), and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

Jesus was afflicted, grieved, suffered pain, bore our disease. He also was praying for us (and is!), and travailing for us. He was sowing the most wonderful Seed:

I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

Connecting the ideas of sowing seed and being grieved reminds me of Psalm 126:5-6

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro (walks and walks, continually walks) weeping, carrying his bag of seed (trail of seed, drawing out of seed), Shall indeed come (shall come, shall come! Shall surely come, shall doubtless come) again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (NASB)

Walks and walks, continually walks – hope deferred. And, really, isn’t all hope deferred? It may be five minutes, or it may be 40 years, but if what you’re hoping for isn’t happening right now you have to hope for it. Paul said these three remain: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest is love.† You must have faith to have hope, faith in the One who promised, or there is no reason for hope. And love happens in the pain of hope, in the gritting of teeth and walking forward carrying the cross. Sowing the seed in tears, praying and travailing, pushing into the pain to bring forth life in death. Hope deferred, for me then, is the drawing back of the bow believing that I will be shooting the arrows of praise some day for answered prayer and fulfilled promises. “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13 NASB). Hope deferred is continuing to walk forward, following after Him, letting Him work in me, changing me. It is praying and travailing, speaking life, sowing the seeds of hope and redemption and salvation, in hope that they will spring up to His Life in me and – in His mighty power – others, sometime, somewhere.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:19-25 (NASB)

Image: The Sower (After Millet) by Vincent van Gogh [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

† 1 Corinthians 13:13

Every When

It’s not easy self – listen self I’m talking to you! – but open your mouth and start praying, start thanking him, start praising him, start giving out his love to people, and he will give you the strength and grace, even more than you need.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (despair, be discouraged, become faint, be weary, fail in heart). Luke 18:1

The word translated “always” in this verse is the Greek word “pantote” and literally means “every when,” i.e. at all times, at any opportunity, all the time, evermore.[i] At every when we are to pray and not give up – when we are depressed, when things look hopeless, when we have no friends or support, when we fail, when others fail us, when they turn against us, when we are angry and frustrated, when we just don’t get it, when we are in need, hungry, desperate, when our dreams are shattered and our hearts are broken. At every when we are to pray and not give up or give in to despair, discouragement, weariness, faint-heartedness.

Here are other things we are commanded to do at every when:

Be joyful always. 1 Thess 5:16[ii]

Rejoice in the Lord always. Phil 4:4

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eph 5:20

Let your conversation (speech) be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Col. 4:6

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Cor. 4:10

Always give yourselves fully to (abounding in) the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:58

See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 1 Thess. 5:15 (NASB)

Therefore we are always confident (of good courage, of good cheer, bold) and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:6-7

And if all that seems impossible, it’s because it is impossible – for us, by ourselves. But our Lord does things too at every when:

And God is able (has the power) to make all grace abound to you, so that always – at every when! -having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance (superabound, have an excess, more than you need) for every good deed. 2 Cor. 9:8 (NASB)

Therefore he is able (has the power) to save (to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, to make well, heal, restore to health, deliver, protect, make whole) completely (completely, perfectly, utterly) those who come to God through him, because he always – at every when! – lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

But thanks be to God, who always – at every when! – leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 2 Cor. 2:14

He is able! Abound! Superabound! More than you need! Triumphal! That doesn’t leave much room for failure. But we have to remember – and I’m talking to myself here above all – we have to remember that He is able, He has the power, He is the Wonderful one (Isaiah 9:6). He’s always up there praying for us. “I can do all things (have strength to overcome) through Christ who strengthens me” Phil. 4:13 (NKJV). It’s not easy self – listen self I’m talking to you! – but open your mouth and start praying, start thanking him, start praising him, start giving out his love to people, and he will give you the strength and grace, even more than you need.

There is another verse that uses pantote in the Bible. It reflects his great heart of love, that we should always be in his Presence, every when, at all times, at any opportunity, all the time, evermore:

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:17

 

Image from Flickr, Praying Woman Hands by Long Thiên

[i] All definitions are from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

[ii] All verses from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

The Art of Remaining Present

God is always present with us – vehemently, passionately (for nothing that He is or does is wimpy or lukewarm). Yet, we struggle to remain present with Him. We fight against ourselves and the distractions of the world. 

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering (hupomone) produce a crop.  Luke 8:15 (NIV)

The Greek word hupomone (cheerful or hopeful endurance, constancy, enduring, patience, patient continuance or waiting, perseverance) comes from the verb hupomeno (remain, abide, endure, persevere). Hupomeno is from two Greek words – hupo (by, from, in, of, under, with) and meno. Meno (μένω) is a wonderful word and is the root, heart, and strength of persevering and producing a good crop.  Meno means to abide, continue, dwell, endure, remain, and – my favorite – continue to be present (I love this! You can be somewhere without being truly present).  Jesus used the word meno several times when he said, “Remain (meno) in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5), and also, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain (meno) in my love.  John 15:9.

Hupomeno means, then, to remain by, in, with, under – I like to think of it as the art of remaining present (continuing to be present), remaining with Him, by Him, under His wings, in the vine – remaining in the Presence. Because it is not from ourselves that the strength comes to persevere in trouble and suffering or even just in daily life, but from Him. It is only by remaining plugged into the vine that we can persevere – “apart from me you can do nothing.”

We know from scripture that God is always present with us. Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20) and Psalm 46:1 tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present (or very present, exceedingly, with muchness, vehemently present) help in trouble.” The Merriam Webster dictionary defines vehemently as forceful energy, intensely emotional, deeply felt, impassioned. That is how God is present with us – vehemently, passionately (for nothing that He is or does is wimpy or lukewarm). Yet, we struggle to remain present with Him. We fight against ourselves and the distractions of the world.

Brother Lawrence wrote about this struggle as “practicing the presence of God”, and that we would meet with resistance from our flesh, but that we should persevere for the burden is light.

“He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration: sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favours He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company: the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of.”[i]

Alexander MacLaren called it “the consciousness of being in touch with the Father, feeling that He is all round us”[ii] — passionately, continually.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. Psalm 73:23 (NIV)

My thirsty soul longs veh’mently,
Yea even faints, thy courts to see:
My very heart and flesh cry out,
O living God, for thee. (Psalm 84: 2, The Scottish Psalter)

 

[i] The Practice of the Presence of God. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1958.

[ii] Expositions of Holy Scripture. Hodder & Stoughton, 1900.

 

Hostile combatants two

Wrestling with the Word implies making an adjustment – changing our thinking and doing to match Jesus’ commandments. It is not a one-time event, but a continual, daily effort.

You must be ready (adjusted, prepared) all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. (Luke 12:40 NLT)

Wrestling with the Word implies making an adjustment – changing our thinking and doing to match Jesus’ commandments. It is not a one-time event, but a continual, daily effort. David said, “I have set (shavah) the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8 NASB). Shavah (ָׁש ָׁוה) means to level, to agree with, resemble¹ (I always think of a carpenter’s level, with the bubble in it, between me and the Word). This implies changing myself – by attitudes, thinking, words and deeds – to line up with the Word, and the Psalm says this is a continual, constant, daily effort.

The Parable of the Sower is told in Matthew 13:19-23, Mark 4:14-20, and Luke 8:11-15. In each, Jesus essentially tells the same story – until the last sentence, which describes the fruitful hearer of the Word. In Matthew 13:23 this hearer understands or wrestles with the word he has heard, in Mark 4:20 he accepts (admits, delights in, receives) the word, and in Luke 8:15 he retains (holds fast, keeps from getting away, keeps in memory) the word and by perseverance (hupomone) produces a good crop. The word translated “retains” is the Greek word katechó (κατέχω). It also means to “check a ship’s headway i.e. to hold or head the ship”², to keep it on course. Hebrews says, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1 NIV). This retaining the Word, keeping the course, holding the ship from drifting away implies constant effort. It is only possible by “keeping the Lord continually before me” or “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” The key to this perseverance, or hupomone, is hidden in the Greek word itself. But, more on that next time.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 4:1 NIV)

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” Tolkien, The Hobbit (chapter 5)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB)

¹ Brown-Driver-Briggs http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7737.htm
² Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary