Our Bible verse for today: “Therefore, since we also have such a large crowd of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Keep your eyes on Jesus and keep going.”
For most of my adult life I was a jogger. Back when my knees could still take it, three or four times a week I would jog four miles as part of my regular workout routine. Occasionally I would compete in longer races too. The longest race I ever attempted was a half-marathon (13.1 miles). The race was called “The Hospital Hill Run” because it ended at a hospital that sat on top of a very steep hill. (I think it was some sick humor that caused the race planners to plan a long climb up a steep hill right at the end of a 13 mile run – and it brought you to the front door of a hospital!)
However one good thing the planners did is that they arranged for crowds of enthusiastic onlookers to line both sides of the street all the way up the long hill, which ended at the finish line. So as we exhausted runners struggled up this steep incline at the end of this long and difficult race, we could see the finish line at the top of the hill, and the crowds along the street were cheering us on and shouting words of encouragement. That really did help. I didn’t want to give-in to the burning in my legs, or the pounding in my chest, or the mild sense of nausea in my gut, in front of that loud cheering crowd. So I kept my eyes firmly fixed on that finish line, I drank-in the encouragement from the cheering throng, and I just pushed through it until I finished.
That’s the picture the writer of the letter to the Hebrews paints for us in Hebrews 12:1-2. He pictures us in a race (a long one). Much of it is hard. If we’re going to run the race well we will have to be resolved to push through the obstacles and just keep going. We will have to suck-it-up and gut-it-out. There’s a crowd of onlookers cheering us on, and Jesus is standing at the finish line waiting for us. (You can’t hear the crowd with your physical ears, and you can’t see Jesus at the finish line with your physical eyes, but if your spiritual antenna is up and your spiritual senses are fine-tuned, you know they’re there and you are encouraged by them.)
This is one of the keys to overcoming in life. Instead of focusing on the obstacles you’re facing, focus instead on Jesus who is standing at the finish line and waving you on. Soak-in the spiritual encouragement that’s all around you, and don’t give up.