since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
– Hebrews 12 : 1 – 4
Life is a race. I know what you’re thinking…some of you are thinking “how can life be a race? I just wake up & live the mundane that is my life.” Some of you might even be thinking, “I don’t even like to run so how can life be a race?”
But the reality is, we are in a constant race against sin, darkness, the pressures of life & even death. We are all trying to overcome weaknesses in our lives & the many things we struggle with. The thing is, we all approach overcoming those weaknesses a little different.
But, we’re all running the same race.
I want to point something out to you in these verses from Hebrews. Notice how the writer says “lay aside every weight, and sin that clings so closely.” What he did not say was, “Don’t stumble. Don’t fall. Don’t trip. Don’t mess up.” This is where it gets tricky.
How do we know what weighs us down? How do we know what behaviors we truly struggle with?
In my experience, I only become aware of the things that weigh me down & the sins I struggle with when I mess up. It is when I stumble & I fall. It is when I trip over myself while I’m running that I become truly aware of my weaknesses.
So, in running this race, we will stumble. We will fall. We will make mistakes.
But, that does not count us out of the race! In fact, it helps with our endurance if we handle it correctly. We can use the stumbles, the falls, the trips, the mess ups to empower us to run faster, to run better, to run without the weight of what we’ve struggled with because we are aware. OR…we can let it weigh us down and cling to us in a way that disables us from having endurance & strength.
We stumble to open up our eyes to the realization of the the weight we need to throw off & the behaviors we need to surrender to God. We “fall” to “look up” to Jesus, the author & the perfecter of our faith to give us endurance to make it further the next time. We trip to be reminded that we are not good enough on our own & we needed a Savior. We mess up to remember that this life is a race that is run to make it to the finish line and hear “well done, good & faithful servant.” Not because we didn’t mess up, but because we relied on the grace & love of the God.
Running this race is not about doing it perfectly. It is not about a time frame. It is not even about who wins & who loses. This is race is about a relationship with God. A relationship that empowers us. A relationship that makes us better. A relationship that gives us strength & endurance. A relationship that has a prize that is better than life…IF we choose to run this race correctly. IF we run this race to please the Father & learn to strive for everything He has for us along the run, then we are doing it right.
At the end of the day, God knows what your race looks like. He even knows all the stumbles, falls, trips, & mess ups. He knows where you can grow. &, He knows what you need to throw off & what destructive behaviors you need to deal with. Focus in on God. Then, you will find the endurance you need & you will not become weary or fainthearted.
Let the struggle make you stronger. Let the brokenness make room for depth of relationship. & one day, you will hear “well done, good & faithful servant.”
Adapted: Ciara Hines/BH