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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
Yesterday evening I was out for a run. It was my second run of the day as I did a 3 mile run in the morning. I was feeling pretty good early in the run so I made a decision to run for 10 miles. I have only ran that far one other time in my life, it was 10 years ago when I ran a half marathon. I knew this was a big undertaking so I settled into a manageable pace and went for it. This scripture immediately came to mind, as well as my grandmother. Sadly, she is in hospice care and very close to the end of her life. She is surrounded by family, but not her whole family. We are 800 miles away, and as I was running it gave me the time to reflect on her life, and draw strength from it.
She is someone I would put in that cloud of great witnesses. She has lived her life in a way that I know God is proud of. She has faithfully served Him and his people since she was able. And it makes me want to do better. During my run, I stumbled between 3 and 4 miles. I fell to the sidewalk like a ton of bricks. At first I laughed because I thought it must have been funny to the passer by’s in cars. Then I assessed the damage, a few scrapes and a really scuffed up corner on my phone. I decided to push on, but was considering calling it quits and heading home at that point. But that scripture says to throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin (sidewalk) that so easily entangles us. Yes my leg hurt, yes my hand hurt, but I wasn’t giving up. I had made a commitment to go 10 miles. Fast forward to about 8 miles in, and I notice my left hamstring is feeling a little weird with every step. I slow my pace but it gets worse, at 8.5 it starts cramping up. I stop, stretch, walk a bit, then start again. Yet it only lets me go a few steps before it gives up. My body has had enough, but I still have a mile to go. I ended up walking that last mile, but I finished the 10.
In many ways I see a correlation between that 10 mile journey and the faith journey we take throughout life. There are going to be setbacks, there are going to be times we stumble, or get hurt, and want to quit. There are going to be times we can’t or don’t move as fast as we planned. But the important thing is to remember our commitment, to draw on the strength of others, to eliminate the things holding us back.
The race is already laid out before us, first set out by Jesus, then followed by so many others. Let’s make sure to include ourselves in that faith list shall we?