The Race–Hebrews 12 Devotional
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV).
If you have ever run a marathon, you will know how punishing it is. More than twenty six gruelling miles. Marathon runners are disciplined, they train, and after months of getting ready, with fitness levels at a peak, the running is still hard, and the athlete still hurts. Some runners don’t even make it to the finish line. The key advice given by running veterans is, “pace yourself”. Don’t begin too fast, run at a pace that you can sustain. Despite all this good advice available, 90% of marathon runners run significantly faster in the first half than the second.
Following Christ is often described in the Bible as a race. A race that we must run to the end. This race of ours is no sprint as we dash madly to the finish line, it is more like a marathon, that we take at a steady pace. It is a race that has been run before, by Christians, like us, who wait at the end with Jesus. A cloud of witnesses who include people like Noah, who put aside the mockery of his neighbours and friends and put his trust in God. Like Elijah, who challenged the king over matters of faith. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who praised God, saying to His angel, “be it unto me according to thy word”.
It is an endurance race, to be run with patience, one in which we block out the distractions of the world, and focus on Jesus. And there will be distractions, you may find yourself looking to the world for your values, instead of keeping your eyes on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ.
Finally, we must run to the finish. In 1968, there was a runner at the Olympic games in Mexico City. He came from Tanzania to run in the marathon. His country had no money for training programs, all they could give him was their blessing. At the last, he was accompanied by an ambulance, as he fell time and time again, and got back up. When he was asked why he kept going at such great personal cost, he replied “You don’t understand. My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race, they sent me to finish it.”
The critical thing about our Christian race, is that we finish it. No matter the cost to ourselves. And our reward is to be part of that cloud of witnesses, who have run before us, and to be with Jesus.
Lord, we thank you that you have run the race before us, and that you are waiting for us in heaven, rejoicing. Let us fix our eyes on your face and give us the strength to endure. Amen.
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