“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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”–Hebrews 12:1-3
My husband is a Marine. (Actually, he just retired, but that is another story.) In the early days of his training, there was a lot of running and marching. In the wee hours of the morning, with a long course ahead, they would set out. The pace was fast and the gear was heavy. For the young Marines, running in full gear built strength and sweat-filled grit.
For the rest of us…running for the finish line goes much easier when we aren’t carrying excess weight. When I am running, last thing I want on my back is a heavy weight slowing me down.
And yet, how many times in life do I allow unnecessary hindrances to make life more difficult? How often do I let my burdens keep me from worshipping God?
4 Keys to Staying on Track:
1. Look for mentors and encouragers.
Pay attention to those who are strong in faith that have gone before you. In this passage, Paul refers to biblical heroes, but the concept can also be applied to faithful people in your life that inspire you to keep running the race, to keep building in your life. Who are the people who cheer you to keep on, pray on, hold on, press on, and run on?
2. Decide to get rid of hindrances.
Sometimes I have allowed things that hinder to hang on. What’s holding you back? The trouble with hindrances and sin is they slow you down, make running more difficult, and sometimes can trip you up. On a personal note, I am amazed at how long I will hang onto things that hold me back. It can be a challenge to lighten our load, especially on the emotional front.
3. Run the right course.
Run with perseverance… any place you choose? It doesn’t say that does it? Where we run is important. Are we running the course, the path that God has marked out for us? Are we flying by the seat of our pants, making decisions and choices based on convenience, reaction, or exhaustion? Here again, being a student of the hard way of doing things, I have covered some fruitless terrain in my running days.
4. Focus on the right goal.
What are you focused on? What are you looking at? Runners are focused on the goal line, visualizing it long before they reach it. According to this passage, the best goal of all is Christ. Focus on Christ, the Initiator and Completer of our faith. It’s breathtakingly easy be overly consumed with our situation, problems, or challenges. When our focus is our problems or on other distractions, we can veer off course. Before we know it, we are running in places God never intended for us to run—and sometimes fighting battles God never intended us to fight.
A couple of questions to ponder:
Are there things in your life that are hindering your ability to persevere?
Are you running the course that God has marked out for you?
Is your attention focused on Christ?