Running the Race

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Have you ever considered all the preparation and training that goes into running a race? To reach optimal performance, the racer must be very intentional with diet, frequency of practice, the proper amount of rest, strength training and more. Running a race is no joke! Especially marathons! I remember when a good friend talked me into running a half marathon. At first, I said, “Absolutely no way. There is no way my body could run 13.1 miles, nor would I want to convince it otherwise.” But, after some persuasion, I somehow decided it was a good idea. Thankfully, I had started running already, but the intensity of my workouts needed to go to the next level if I was going to reach proper marathon-shape in just a few short months.

The writer of Hebrews tells us the Christian life can be compared to a race. One that must be run with perseverance and endurance, and one that takes our dedication and commitment. But here is some good news- we are told there is a very specific race “marked out for us.” Meaning, the very God who made us, is the one who placed the race we are to run before us. And not only did He place a specific and perfectly tailored “race” before each one of us, but He equipped each of us with the exact gifts and talents needed to run our specific race. We have already been given everything we need to cross the finish line in victory, IF we are careful to follow God’s instruction written in Hebrews 12:1-2.

Can you imagine trying to run a race while wearing a giant, oversized coat? Or while carrying a few bricks? It sounds ridiculous! But yet, that’s what many of us are doing when we try to run our spiritual race and hold onto things such as unforgiveness, worry, or fear. These are examples of spiritual entanglements that will absolutely slow us down if we are not intentional to, by faith, “throw off” of lay aside those things.

But just like any good Father, our God gave us the most wonderful and perfect motivator. His name is Jesus. For God knew that it would be through an intimate relationship with Jesus alone that we would discover how to best activate and utilize our gifts and talents to their fullest potential. It’s by fixing our eyes upon the one who loves us and has gone before us, who already finished the hardest part of the race in complete and total victory, that we’ll find ourselves strengthened, full of energy and desire to press on, even when it’s hard, until we see the fulfillment of His good and perfect plan in our lives and on the earth. We were the joy set before Jesus and now He is the joy set before us. Let’s fix our eyes upon Him, until we cross the finish line and step into the wonders of everlasting victory.

The eternal rewards are WORTH it!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Is your prayer life need focused or God focused?

Oftentimes, we are looking the wrong direction in prayer: we look to our issues, focusing our attention and prayer on them when what we need most is to keep our eyes on the Lord--seeking Him for Himself--and not necessarily on what He can do for us. It is in seeking Him and His presence, in desiring to stay with Him in the secret place, that answers are provided, needs are met, and “all things added to us.” We must practice having times in the secret place that are just about the two of us and our relationship- leaving our cares at the door.

A truth to consider, is that our desire follow our attention. Meaning, if we prioritize time with Him, our desire for time with Him will increase. Conversely- when we constantly put our attention on our needs, focusing on our worries, our problems and crises, and persist in approaching the throne of Grace with our loads, only looking for relief (even though we should be free to do this as needed)--we miss opportunities to truly draw close to God. When our attention is focused on our need, our desire is then focused solely on the answer the Lord can provide for us, and not Him alone. In being need-focused instead of God-focused, our desire to know Him and our opportunity to increase in love for Him is diminished.

We can daily make the choice to lay our troubles and needs aside and seek the Lord above all, setting our attention on Him first thing in the morning, and spending times of fellowship with Him in the secret place throughout the day. Our desire for Him will follow our attention, and it will become our greatest delight to fellowship with Him. The needs of the day and for our futures will be met by our heavenly Father during our times in the secret place.

Matthew 6:33: “Desire and seek first God and God alone, His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

The Joy That Comes From Abiding

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to become discouraged these days? It seems like everywhere we look there is some form of bad news. However, for the body of Christ, specifically for those who make it their aim to abide in the Lord, an unlimited supply of joy is always available if we will learn to tap into it by faith.

Years ago, I was going through a major season of discouragement. It seemed like all around me, there was one crisis after another. On a walk one day, after spending some time in prayer, I was reminded of blind Bartimaeus. The Bible tells us he threw aside his beggar’s garment and came to Jesus, asking to receive his sight. Jesus reply was, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Mark 10:46-52). Remembering this story, I made a decision to imitate Bartimaeus, but instead of throwing aside my beggar’s cloak, I decided to throw aside the discouragement I had been carrying and come to Jesus. In His presence, I was able to activate my faith and receive the joy He promises in His word.

John 15 is all about abiding or remaining in Him. It gives us a picture of continual, unbroken fellowship. Abiding speaks of an intimacy so close that even desires are shared. That day on my walk, I realized Jesus is always there, always ready to pour out His love and goodness upon those who will simply come to Him in faith, believing He will answer. I will never forget the peace that came over me that day. I felt the discouragement lift, and was finally able to see various situations through the eyes of faith.

Our circumstances might be screaming one thing, but by abiding in Him in the secret place, we can access unlimited amounts of joy and peace right in the middle of any storm.


Father, I thank you for all that was done when Jesus died on the cross. I am so grateful He gave me access into Your presence, and in Your presence is fullness of joy. By faith, I cast aside every care and come to You, Jesus. I lay these situations at your feet, and in return, receive the fullness of joy You died to give me. I pray this by faith, in Jesus’ name. Amen.