Running the Race
Here’s a reflection written by my friend Davy Blackburn which I thought you might like to read.
Hebrews 12:1 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Many times I have heard messages about not giving up and running the race. I don’t think I appreciated exactly what it takes to run a race completely until I took up long distance running to offset my diabetes. People try running for different reasons. As a youngster at school sports day I loved sprinting. It was quick and I loved the feeling of flying with the wind. I wanted to win. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians mentions only one person wins the prize, and pleads for the Christian to race as though to win the prize. In God’s kingdom though, we do not have to take first place, we are already winners because of the life we have been given through the sacrificial death of Jesus.
Running distances for some is a release of sorts. A time to be on your own and just run. It is proven to be very beneficial to mental health. It can be a time for figuring things out in your head, praying, listening to talks or simply listening to music; as I usually do. But sometimes running in silence is just as beneficial. Perhaps that is because it can be the very place we connect with God. A time for us to just allow the Spirit to speak to us. The art of running is learned as a child, but the art of running effectively; like our walk with Jesus, is mastered by patience, endurance, practice and coaching. I have not quite mastered the art and often end up head first in the dirt, one time receiving three stitches above my eye. This too can be a picture of our journey through life. We stumble and fall and have to pick ourselves up again. We go through long lonely times where we do not seem to hear from God. Long runs have these times of isolation where on the outside you are still running, but on the inside you are sore and feel fatigue, you are ready to give up. You wonder why you are doing this. But you focus on finishing.
The passage from Hebrews reminds us to set our eyes on Jesus. Just like the runner who, though he cannot see the finish line keeps running until the end of the race, so the believer runs their race in faith. Not visibly seeing Jesus, but knowing he is there, waiting at life journey’s end. Yet although Jesus died a painful horrible death. Paul tells us he did so for the joy set before him; the joy of seeing the defeat of sin and the coming together of the Saints, God’s sons and daughters.
Paul in pointing out the race to the Corinthians, was also reminding them of the ground they have already travelled and urging them not to give up but to continue till the end. The runner will not stop till he reaches that finishing line. When you are feeling down, look to the cross and remember the victory won for us by our beloved saviour. Have that same joy which Jesus has now with the Father in Heaven, the same joy he will share when we finish our race and move onto the prize awaiting us.