Hebrews 12:1-2a – 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. (NIV)
Spring is coming, and track season is just around the corner. This means that I'll soon be spending many hours in the bleachers watching my grandson Ryan's high school track meets as he runs sprints, relays, and hurdles.
Runners wear shorts and a jersey and lightweight track shoes to enable them to run unencumbered. Hebrews instructs us to "throw off" sin and other hindrances to the successful running of our race — our life's journey. We must be prepared for an arduous race. Running a race well is extremely demanding, as is evidenced by the visible strain on the runners' faces as they urgently stretch toward the finish line.
The fans in the stands will not all be cheering for the same individuals or teams. Spectator loyalty will be divided as fans cheer for their own favourites — some cheering for Team A and some for Team B. So it is in our earthly race. Some of the spectators will be cheering for us, and some will be hoping that we will be defeated.
The "great cloud of witnesses" referenced in today's passage always brings to my mind spectators in heavenly places. I like to think that loved ones who have gone on before are watching and cheering us on as we run life's race. But there are other heavenly watchers who are actively helping us in our race. Angels are watching and protecting us as we face obstacles along the way.
Psalm 91:11 – For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (NIV)
The word "surrounded" leads me also to think of other people around us here on earth who are watching our actions every single day. Some of these observers are unbelievers whom we can influence for Christ. Others are our Christian brothers and sisters who help and support us in prayer, urging us on and encouraging us as we run. Still others, who do not agree with our Christian beliefs, cheer when we stumble and fall. We can be sure that Satan and his unseen minions will do all that they can to cause us to stumble.
In Hebrews, however, we are exhorted to fix our eyes on Jesus as we approach the finish line in our earthly race. He is waiting for us with open arms whether we finish our race as the victor or simply faithfully run the race to the utmost of our ability.
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, You have marked out our race for us and have promised to bring us safely to the finish line. Please give us grace and strength to run our race faithfully and well. Amen.
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