My wife can run circles around me. That is, of course, if we are running a long distance. Give me a straightaway and a chance to sprint and there’s not too many people I know who can beat me. But a run requiring endurance? That’s where I fall short. I’ve tried to run with my wife Keri, I really have. The first mile or two aren’t too bad. My long legs help me keep pace. But I simply do not have the desire or perseverance to run for long distances. She beats me every time. Sure, I use the usual excuses of sore knees or being tired from a rough day at work, but she never buys it.
So I’m sure you know where I’m headed with this “running with endurance” idea. Let’s take a look at Hebrews 12:1-3 and see how our walk as Christians is really not a walk at all but an endurance race.
“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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfect or of our faith, who for the joy set before him 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 sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”
If we look at this passage carefully, there are a few ideas that pop out immediately.
- We must throw off any hindrances. I once ran a race at school against one of my students during our field day. To make it fair, I decided to carry another student piggyback. Even though the one I carried was only about 50 pounds, their extra weight still slowed me down. Likewise, sin and worldly desires can prevent us from running efficiently. When we get tangled up with anxiety about our lives, how we’re going to meet our needs, we lose our focus on God and quit the race. We must throw away the extra baggage and focus only on loving and pleasing God.
- Run with perseverance/ endurance. When marathon runners race, there comes a point when their body tells them to stop. Physically, they cannot go any further. But the mental side kicks in, the perseverance needed to continue when you have nothing left. Similarly, the Holy Spirit can provide that added boost of endurance we need to fight on and eventually finish strong. We must adopt a “never give up” mentality, willing to do whatever it takes to follow God and his plan for our lives.
- Fix our eyes on Jesus. I like sprinting because I can see the finish line. I give all out effort knowing that I can cross that line quickly and stop. Even though long distance runners cannot see the end during most of their race, they have checkpoints along the way to stay focused too. They keep close track of their mileage and time. In the same way, we must keep our eyes on the goal. Jesus has lived a perfect life of example so that we may look to him for guidance. The end of the passage mentions remembering the trials and challenges Jesus faced. We have a High Priest who has dealt with every form of temptation we may see. We can run with perseverance when we know that our Lord did so as well. He is our inspiration when we feel like we have to quit.
Looking at the walk of a Christian as a race of endurance is a great analogy to keep our minds focused on the goal. Jesus, through his death, bought us at a great price. We can show our love and gratitude for that sacrifice by running strong, getting up when we fall, and not quitting early. Run hard now while you can because sooner or later, the race does end.
I want to finish victorious! Don’t you?