Running the Race

By Libby Farmen

Hebrews 12:1 is one of my favorite verses. So much truth is packed into it as the author seeks to simultaneously inspire us and ground us in our Christian faith. Today, I’m going to share the four promises that come from this verse and how I claim them as truth in my life.  

  1. The race that has been marked out for us. God promises that there is a race marked out for me. It is not haphazard. I don’t I need to find my way. This is a marked race. The course has been laid out for me by the very Author of my life. Therefore, I can’t afford to take time while I am running my own race to have ‘race envy’ about the race that you get to run. I can find pleasure in the knowledge that the God of the universe marked out a path for me which is so intimate and life altering. This is also a call for me to pay attention to the markers along the way, and the only way that I have done that successfully is running my race as close to Jesus as I can get. There aren’t shortcuts – it takes time and intention to cultivate an authentically deep relationship with Him.
  2. Run with perseverance. The word perseverance originates from the Greek word upomones which means “a patient enduring.” Additionally, the Greek word for race is agona which is where we get our English word “agony.” So, as I run this race, I remember that the struggle is real. This helps me to better prepare, train, and run my race with perseverance. I am less shocked by trials and tribulations and instead seek to train so that when they arrive, I am as strong as possible.  
  3. Let us throw everything that hinders and the sin that so easily ensnares us. When I first studied this verse, I missed an important and tiny word. There are two parts being referenced here – everything that hinders and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Sin? I get sin. However, “everything that hinders?” That means there can be things in my life that aren’t sinful but can slow me down. TV, sports, sleep, food, relationships, social media. . . . Is there anything wrong with these? No, yet can they become hindrances? Sure – but this is different for every person. For one, social media can be a hindrance and for another, not. For me, I can struggle to be present in today. I am often already thinking about tomorrow which can be a hindrance because it causes me to miss or not fully recognize important moments and lessons that God wants me to learn today. The promise is that I have power and ability (from the Holy Spirit) to throw these hindrances off. That’s powerful.  
  4. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. God has given me powerful examples of what a successful race looks like. I can find these examples in the Bible, throughout history, and in the people God has placed in my life. These individuals have gone on before me to serve as examples and encouragers in my race. This verse tells me that I am surrounded. That is a powerful word. God has not left me to run my race alone. However, I must take ownership to let these “witnesses” infiltrate my life and make a difference.

When I am living this verse to its fullest, I have greater peace and courage. God marked my path; he told me I would struggle but am able to persevere. He told me that I have sin and hindrances that will slow me down, but I’ve been given clearance to throw them from me. And, I don’t have to do this alone – we have examples and encouragers all around us. The race isn’t easy, but I’ve been promised I can reach the finish line. And so, I run into this new day, my eyes scanning the horizon for the path, and with the knowledge that one day I will cross the finish line, having fully completed my race, to hear the words we all long to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

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