With spring we welcome baseball games and track meets in which running plays a predominant role. Even now, as athletes, our kids are preparing for the coming season with conditioning. In order to steal bases, they must run well. And no track star jumped on a track one day and broke a new record.
But whether we are true athletes or the couch variety, we all are running in a life race.
Our race isn’t a sprint either.
The race of life is a marathon with ups and downs, stumbles and skinned knees, exhaustion and refreshing cups of water. And in the end, we want to cross the finish feeling we’ve run the race well. I can’t wait to see Jesus, fall at his feet and hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I pray that will be the case. As followers of Christ, I think that is our goal.
Hebrews 12 gives us some helpful instruction to make sure we end in that place.
First, it says to “throw off” everything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us.
I haven’t run a marathon, but I can’t imagine that the runners carry around suitcases full of old stuff, winter coats with the idea it will protect them, or chains with iron balls dragging behind them.
That would be crazy, right?
But in life, we cling to hurts, unforgiveness, sinful actions, and addictions that hinder us.
The Bible says to throw it off. The word means a violent action. Not carefully put it down someplace close by where you can pick it up again. Not passively toss it at your feet. No, “throw off” indicates an intentional act of flinging it as far away from you as possible.
Next, this chapter encourages us to persevere.
A marathon takes time and endurance. My daughter who runs has described the physical and emotional challenge of a marathon—that tenth mile when she thinks she’ll never make it to the end.
When we decide we’re going to throw off junk and run, those old patterns may still trip us up, unhealthy relationships will attempt to pull us out of the race, and we’ll get tired on those days that seem like nothing is working and the finish line is a far off figment of our imagination.
We can’t give up, grow weary or lose heart.
Easy for me to say, right? But many other men and women of faith have gone before us, proving that God is faithful to us and his promises (Read Hebrews 11 for a faith boost.)
In order to persevere we must:
- Fix our eyes on Jesus. He began our faith and will perfect it. He endured the cross for us and considers US his joy. He put aside the shame of being beaten, naked and mocked so that we could be in relationship with him forever. Consider the opposition he had—even leading to his death. Most of us won’t ever have to suffer that much.
- Embrace trials as an opportunity. God sees everything we are going through. The world is a tough, evil place to navigate, but even out of all those terrible things, God can bring good and abundance to us. Those painful situations shape our character and give us depth. Sometimes they are discipline that God lovingly allows to train us. Like the hard training to run a long race.
- Remember that others are watching us. Our race is an encouragement to others. When we don’t give up, they believe they can make it too. And they will see Jesus in us as well.
- Not allow ourselves to be robbed. I’m not talking your purse or backpack. Bitterness towards situations or others, uncontrolled sexual desires or gluttony (over indulging in anything) can steal the best God has for us—our inheritance in Christ—the Bible calls it. We miss out on his goodness and grace when we allow these things to rule our lives. Temporary, momentary pleasure traded for beyond imagination fulfilment and joy. Not worth it.
- Trust that our God is a personal God. He is mighty, powerful, and consuming, but through Jesus, made a way to draw close to him. He welcomes us with open, loving arms. Don’t refuse him. Instead, worship him with confidence, awe and reverence.
How about you? Do you feel like you’re running well? Or do you need some encouragement from the sidelines?
Let me offer you a cup of water.
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