Running YOUR Race
Running Your Race
Hebrews 12:1-3 …let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
1. The writer of Hebrews challenges us, encourages us, to run with perseverance. This statement is a declaration that our race is a long and arduous one, a race that is not for the faint of heart. But how can we run such a difficult race? The writer will provide the answer shortly but for now it is important to own the demands and hardships associated with this race. If we enter this race without owning the difficulty of the race set before us, we are primed for overwhelming disappointment, discouragement and possibly failure. However, by knowing and owning that this race entails hardship and struggle, this can foster the deeper dependency on the strength of God, a strength that finds its greatest expression when we are weak.
Jesus reminds us that in the world you WILL have tribulation. Take some time to reflect on the current difficulties that are a part of your life. Sharing these hardships, struggles, asking Jesus for a deep peace in the midst of them, the ability to embrace and look beyond them to the truth that God will use them to strengthen and deepen your faith. Remind yourself that you are not alone but God walks with you, is within you.
2. The phrase, the race set before us, I believe this speaks to the uniqueness of the course God is calling each of us to run. Though our goal is the same, loving God and neighbor, we each have our distinctive race that we are called to run. In light of this an important question to ask is:
What is the race that God has invited you to run?
Your particular race will call you to employ the unique gifts, abilities, talents, and knowings that God has given you over the course of your life. Take some time to consider characteristics of the section of the race God is calling you to run during this season of your life. The race is run throughout your life, but it is comprised of a variety of sections each with its own peculiar demands.
What are some things that might be helpful to make a part of the rhythm of your life that would help you to run this section of your race?
How are you feeling about this section of your race—fearful, excited, uncertain, anxious, hopeful, trusting, doubt filled, confident…. Share your feelings with Jesus and listen for Jesus to speak to you, words of life, reassurance, encouragement.
3. How do we do all this? By fixing our eyes on Jesus – recalling to heart and mind that Jesus is with us, is within us and that Jesus ran his own race with perseverance and that God has given us all we need to run the race God has set before us to run.
Now let’s look at Jesus a little more closely.
Jesus endured the cross – it was NOT easy but He was faithful to run his race. Are you enslaved to a life of ease, comfort, and temporal pleasures? Is Jesus currently inviting you to deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Jesus? If yes, what might that look like on this leg of your race?
Jesus disregarded the shame – he was disgraced, his reputation tarnished, he was called a drunkard, a glutton, His miracles called the work of Satan but it did not matter, there was something more important to Jesus than what others thought of him, how people treated him, and that was living a life of faithful obedience to God fueled by His love of God and love of others. How concerned are you about how people view you and talk about you? Is this an area of un-freedom that would hinder you from running the race that is before you? What would it look like to have an unshakeable identity in Jesus as the beloved? What God-empowered steps might help you be free to be you and run your race?
Jesus endured hostility – there were those plotting his death, those who took up stones to kill him, but he remained faithful to run the race that was set before him. Are you willing to suffer in order to keep running your race? Remember the words of Paul; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body ( 2 Cor 4:8-10). What keeps you from paying the price to run the race set before you? What would it look like to invite God into that struggle?
The results of focusing our hearts/minds on Jesus is that we will not ultimately grow weary and/or lose heart – there will be times when we are growing weary, when we very well may be losing heart to a greater or lesser degree, but it does not have to carry the day and overwhelm us to the point of becoming hopeless and will-less.
The writer once again reminds us that this race is not a walk in the park but it is a race that will take a toll on each of us – so much so that there is a distinct possibility that one or all of us will be tempted from time to time to throw in the towel, to grow weary and lose heart. But we are not alone on this race for Jesus is with us, within us, and there is a crowd of witnesses cheering us on.
The good news is that although this race can be arduous and very demanding, as we look at Jesus we are reminded that it is possible to run this race, to complete this race but only if we, like Jesus, are dependent on the Father, looking to God to supply our needs. We need to stay spiritually hydrated, drinking of the streams of living water that flow from Jesus. We need to be sustained and fortified by the written word of God (the scriptures) and the visible word of God (the Eucharist).
Additionally we need to be there for one another. As Jesus drew near to the end of his race and was in the garden struggling to persevere, being tempted to lose heart, he had brought three of his disciples to encourage and support Him during his time of struggle. I believe we are called to intentionally be that for one another while also inviting others to be that for us. For each of us will be challenged and stretched by the race that has been set before us and this is a race we cannot run alone – for will need the power of Christ and the presence of our brothers and sisters along the race course to encourage us, refuel us and refresh us. Who is part of your race support team and what do you currently need from them? Whose support team are you on and what do they currently need from you?
I hope you have a good month and will keep keeping your eyes on Jesus as you run the race God has set before you, while lovingly encouraging others to do the same.
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