I ran out to the backyard to get something without paying attention to what was in front of me. There is nothing quite like walking into a spider web. Entangled in its mess is terrifying, frustrating, and gross all at the same time. Instead of taking care of what I went out there for, I was wiping wispy spider web from my arms and legs. By the time I got out of the mess, I had completely lost my focus and forgotten what I needed.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Back to running once again. When I was training, I carried my water with me in a fuel belt. I knew how much I could carry and how far I could go with what I had. When race day came, the friend who encouraged me so much challenged me to carry much less than what I was used to. Since the race committee had water stops spaced every couple of miles, I didn’t need that much. Water is heavy. I was going to be running 26.2 miles. It may not seem like a lot, but when you have a long way to go, 2 pounds of water can make a difference. Plus, it put me in a position to trust the Lord to get me from water stop to water stop. With a wink and a smile, she reminded me of this verse–literally encouraging me to strip off every ounce of weight that might slow me down.
God has marked out a race for each one of us. The way we go the distance is by keeping our eyes focused on Jesus. Occasionally we glance down. But we keep focused up and ahead. In order to be successful, we need to know our path is clear of any entanglements. Some will arise, that’s for certain. (If you’ve run for any length of time, you’ve met your share of slippery spots, surprise stones in the road, uneven sidewalks, and the occasional bug in your eye.) But it’s best if those surprises are not of our own doing.
A few obstacles …
- An overly busy schedule can keep us focused on urgent things, but not necessarily important things.
- An overly busy ministry schedule can keep us focused on programs, rather than people.
- Maybe a relationship has gone sour and we need to make an approach and ask forgiveness.
- Maybe we are stuck in a sinful situation, possibly addiction.
- Fear of the future can keep us so focused on the here and now that we miss God’s best.
My guess is, if something else popped into your head as you read that list, you probably ought to take it before the Lord. As I mentioned earlier, I’m clearing out some clutter. It definitely bogs me down.
All of these things weigh us down, and clouds our thinking. There is no way we can fully move forward in faith when we are tangled up in stuff like this. We may make some progress, but we won’t get as far as we could unencumbered.
God wants us to finish our race–and to finish well. Finishing well does not mean coming in first. It means doing our best to honor the Lord in all we do. This pleases God!
Marathon finishers receive all kinds of goodies. But there is nothing like the medal. Finishers in the Christian faith receive reward as well. The best reward is hearing your Father say, Well done! That’s what I want to hear. What about you? Are you running your race without obstacles?
Image: Pixabay (tookapic)