“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1-2 [NLT]
I’m not really a runner. That’s not to say, I’ve never run. Not too long ago, I used to run almost every day for exercise, but never much more than a mile or two. Just enough to get a short work-out in. My daughter, on the other hand, has become quite the distance runner in the past two years. Since the spring of 2018, she’s run a full marathon and three half marathons.
She inspires me.
If you’ve ever trained for a long-distance race, you know you don’t just show up the day of the race and compete. It takes months of training and endurance. And yet, despite sore muscles, bad weather, feet covered in blisters and a bad knee, she presses on, day after day. She does it for the prize at the end. She does it so she can run the race well when her race day comes.
The author of Hebrews compares a life of faith to a marathon. If we’re going to run the race well, we’ll need discipline and endurance. Ugh. I don’t know about you, but neither of those concepts sound easy to me. And that’s the point. Life here on earth was never meant to be easy. But as Hebrews 12:5-13 tells us, the training has a purpose. It proves we are part of the family of God and it strengthens us to live the life of faith God has called us to.
Thankfully, we have a champion who has shown us how it’s done. He endured all the shame of the cross, all the pain of rejection, all the hostility and the weight of our sin for a purpose. He ran His race to perfection and is now seated in the victor’s seat. He is our example. He is also the one who empowers and equips us to run our own races well. [Hebrews 13: 20-21] Thank God! We’re not in this alone.
We’ve reached the end of our time together in Hebrews. I pray you’ll take encouragement from these final chapters. The race may be long and your personal finish line may be years in the distance, but don’t give up. The prize is worth it. Run with endurance. The joy that awaits, the words, “well done my faithful servant,” will be well worth the cost.