WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – I was near the end of a twilight jog a few years ago. I set a pace and had a plan. Unfortunately, I reached the end of my strength about three blocks before the end of my plan. As I was slowing down to admit defeat, an indistinct figure in the dusk beside the road said, “Keep on going. You can make it!” I don’t know who he was, but that night he had God’s message for me. And it wasn’t just about running; it was about life.
The Lord has replayed that scene in my mind many times since then when I needed that message. (By the way, I seemed to get a second wind that night and pushed through the last three blocks.)
In Hebrews 11, the author recited a long list of men and women who came to the end of their strength but pushed on to the finish line through their faith. In chapter 12, he encourages us to add our names to that list:
“Let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – The last time I preached this passage, I came on stage wearing about eight layers of clothes, overalls, a jacket, and an overcoat. Multiple coils of garden hose and rope were slung across my shoulders, and I kept tripping over the stray loops dragging on the floor. I could barely bend my elbow enough to bring my Bible up to a reading position. “I’m ready to race. Do you think I’ll win?”
God has laid out a unique race course for your life and for mine, and He tells us to “Run in such a way to win the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24). Today’s verses provide five essentials for those of us who want to finish well:
Jettison some excess. – When he says, “lay aside every hindrance,” he’s not necessarily talking about bad stuff. There are some things that are OK to lug around if you’re just out for a stroll. But they’ll bog you down in a race. Are you carrying pastimes, treasures, or relationships that are hindering your spiritual progress and need to be laid aside?
Untangle yourself from sin. – Sin will eventually trip you up. Leave it behind on the track while you can.
Keep running, even if it’s slower than you’d like. – Endurance is more important than speed. If the course is uphill, listen to the Holy Spirit say, “Keep going. You can make it.”
Keep facing forward. – The race always “lies before us.” Never behind. Don’t worry about previous stumbles. Focus on the next steps God has for you.
And, above all…
Fix your gaze on Jesus! – Everything you need from beginning to end is in Him. All the faith you need is in Him. He’s already won the race, and He’ll take you across the finish line. Read about Him, meditate on Him, see Him in His people, notice Him in your circumstances, converse with Him throughout your day. This is not something that happens to you; it’s something you do: “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”