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, 2 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.