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 KJV
This is a well known scripture to most of us who have been raised in church all of our lives.
It is taught, preached and expounded upon in great detail. Yet, few of us actually know or comprehend the depths of its meaning.
Some treat it as if the race is a casual one meant to be run, walked or skipped at our own leisure. Others view it as a sprint that must be finished quickly and expediently.
Both views are wrong. Allow me to explain.
Years ago in high school I participated in Track. I ran the 100 meter low hurdles, the 400 and 800 meter relays and the most dreaded to most, the mile run. The mile run was my favorite.
My view of the race changed dramatically on one particular Friday afternoon track meet.
It began as any other day in the south, hot and humid. Barreling through the low hurdles, the 400 and 800 meter relay with ease. We won ribbons in all categories. Needless to say I was high on adrenaline and pumped to run the mile.
My first mistake was not stretching enough and that would later bite me in the rear end.
Lining up for the mile run, I was positioned in the first spot on the inside of the track, which was my favorite spot to be placed.
This brings me to my second mistake, focus. So pumped was I to begin I did not weigh the race itself and the four laps I had to run. I was solely focused on the finish line.
The gun goes off and out of my position I started off in a full sprint, leading me to my third and final mistake.
I sprinted the entire four laps.
Exhilaration and adrenalin coursing through my body, I knew I was 3/4 of a lap ahead of the pack, on this the final lap.
I saw the finish line ahead and picked up my speed.
Then it happened, a pop in my leg and several end over end rolls and I was face planted on the track that moments ago had held sure victory for me.
Several tormenting seconds passed and as did six of my competitors.
I would not win this race.
Sheer determination mixed with extreme embarrassment slowly drug me to my feet, limping toward the goal.
There I collapsed in tremendous pain and complete mortification.
Much to my surprise the crowd was on their feet cheering for me.
It was in that moment I learned something about myself and something about running a race.
Yes, I had failed miserably but I also had not allowed it to keep me from finishing the race. I limped painfully over the finish line which had prompted all the cheering.
I had not quit.
I may not have won a ribbon that day for the mile but I did learn a valuable lesson of not quitting even if it means limping over the finish line.
This leads me back to the lesson Paul wanted us to see.
The race is a long distance one, a marathon away from the crowd of onlookers. It’s a knee pounding, sweat enduring race that requires focus, slow breathing and measured paces.
It requires endurance going up the steep hills, careful steps crossing rocky pathways, measured steps across swift moving streams.
It is not for the faint of heart.
You won’t cross this finish line easily or quickly. You’re not supposed to. If this race was easy the whole world would be running with you.
This race is not against a competitor, it’s not a competition. This race is for you alone to run.
It test everything in you and there are times along the way you will fall and fall miserably.
Jesus has already run the race and won it. This gives us the courage we need to endure.
This race is about running and running well. You may trip, fall on your face or even pull muscles from time to time. You may get shin splints and endure teeth rattling potholes.
The question is are you going to quit?
Even limping over the finish line is better than not having run at all.
The prize here is Jesus Himself and entering the arena, that standing ovation you get from a cloud of witnesses who have gone before you.
In other words, it’s not how well you ran the race but did you finish it all.
Determine today that you will finish the race, limping or not. Run with patience and when you fall, get back up.
Don’t quit no matter how beat up you feel.
The end is worth it all.
I’ll leave you with another word on running from the apostle Paul and I pray that wherever you are in the race that you will endure to the end.
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 1 Corinthians 9:24 KJV
I’m hid with Christ,