“Therefore, 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” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
One of the most fun jobs I have ever had is serving as a triathlon and running coach. Cross Train was created so that I could train women spiritually while also training them physically. The ladies in Cross Train met at 5:30 a.m. and trained until 6:45 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday. Saturday mornings started at either 7:00 or 8:00 depending upon the length of our workouts. Many of those mornings were two- to three-hour trainings. Needless to say, training was a commitment that required focus and sacrifice.
Throughout Scripture, we read of our faith journeys being compared to a race. Notice the passage from Hebrews uses the word, “endurance.” The faith journey is not a sprint; instead, it is an endurance event which means we need to train smart, race smart, and keep our eyes on the finish line.
When runners get tired, the tendency is to drop their heads. While that feels easier in the moment, it is actually counterproductive as it limits air supply. The writer of Hebrews calls us to look to Jesus, to lift our eyes off of ourselves. With our heads lifted, oxygen can flow freely. Good posture in running makes all the difference as our body can function at its optimum. Good posture in our faith life is also very important. If our eyes are constantly looking down, all we see is us; we get out of alignment. When we lift our eyes, we can be freed from ourselves in order to see Jesus and others.
In training and racing, focus is everything. In my own races, I found myself focusing on the next water station or the person ahead of me, the one I wanted to catch and then pass. More often, the focus was on the joy of the finish line. I knew that once I crossed that line, all the effort would be worth it. The goal would be accomplished.
Training is a discipline, and so is our Christian journey.
Can this also be true in our Christian lives and journeys? Training is a discipline. It often means early mornings and pushing through our own resistance. Racing is exhausting. A race pushes us to our limits, asks us to stay in it when we want to quit. Life with Jesus requires that same discipline and the need to keep moving forward even when we are struggling to take the next step.
Jesus pushed through the pain of the cross because he was focused on the joy set before him. That joy is you; it is me. He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. There was victory because of Jesus’ perseverance; there will be victory in your perseverance. The joy is before you. There is a finish line. Once there, we will stand face to face with Jesus and hear the words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Are you struggling in the race right now? If so, what is your focus? Can you envision the finish line? Are your eyes looking down? What would it look like to lift your head and look into the eyes of your Savior who has finished his race so that you can have victory?