“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, 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.” Hebrews 12:1-2
We have heard it said so many times that, as believers, we are in a race. It’s a race that has many twists and turns. The terrain is sometimes rough and the road is long. We all face challenges as we are going through life. There are losses and there are gains. Jesus endured these same things to be the example for us as we are on this race that is set before us. We must look to Him, the founder and perfecter of our faith to get through the race. One version says that He is the author and finisher of our faith. If He is the author and finisher, that means He is writing the story. He is aware of where we are in the race at all times.
We have runners in our family. They love to run. My husband ran a marathon a few years ago. My daughter ran cross-country in high school. They have done sprint triathlons and 5k races. There are also others in our extended family who participate in these different types of races. They run for exercise. They love it. Depending on the type of race that they are preparing for determines the type of training that they participate in. Intense, daily, endurance-type cross-training such as swimming or biking for the longer races. For the shorter races, running and conditioning several times a week. Regardless of the race, they have to stay in focus and keep their eyes on the finish that they want to accomplish.
The race that is set before you right now may be parenting a house full of children, or caring for an aging parent. It may be a major illness or the grieving process in losing a loved one. A wayward child. An unfaithful spouse.
Many factors can determine the outcome of a physical race and whether you complete it or not: being prepared, proper shoes, stretching, lightweight clothing, proper hydration and food.
We need to condition ourselves in our journey as believers:
- Study God’s word. He says that we show ourselves approved by studying. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15
- Pray earnestly, without ceasing. (I Thess. 5:17)
- Don’t give up. Build endurance (Heb 12:1)
- Be intentional in your spiritual life. Every. Day.
- Trust God. Exercising your faith. It will strengthen you.
- Look to Jesus. He is our kind and loving savior who is with us every single step of the way. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6
I love that before mentioning the race that is set before us, scripture refers to the great cloud of witnesses that are surrounding us as we are on this journey through life. It reminds us that we are not alone in this race. Many have gone before us and have just finished before us. Real people, with human strengths and weaknesses just like us that have left their examples to the value and blessing of living by faith. Read about these inspiring saints in Hebrews 11.
Honest confession. I don’t like to run. Period. My feelings are that the only good thing about running is that it is faster than walking. I did do a 5k several years ago, but nothing else. I have stood on the sidelines and cheered them all on for years and wanted to participate, but I’ve never managed to stay in training long enough to do it again. I’ve made excuses and let other things hinder me from participating in a race.
But…I’m done with being a spectator. In a few weeks, I will be a participator in the race. I am scared and intimidated and frankly, I want to go the opposite direction from where everyone else is going. But guess what! My family will be cheering me on at the finish line. They have encouraged me and have run with me and even pushed me at times when I thought about giving up. I have trained, probably not enough, but I am getting into that race with these guys. I’m getting stronger and more sure of myself. It has not and will not be easy, but I’m going to do it. My goal is to cross the finish line!
Keep on even in your race of faith, even if you don’t feel like it. There is a place where you get your second wind and push past the pain or the heat or the hard to breathe time. My husband says it’s there, but I haven’t gotten there yet in running. Some days life is very hard. Some days it’s easy and you wish it wouldn’t end. The struggle is real. But the reward of crossing that finish line and entering our eternal reward is real. I believe that those who have already completed the race that was before them are watching from heaven and cheering us on in our own race that is set before us. They will be meeting us at the finish line. As Rick and Bubba so famously say, “Stay in it!”