Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the  author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB

I found myself thinking of the above passage tonight as I was doing my walk/run workout today.  I got about 3 miles in today, and I am so feeling it.  As I was running, I had to push myself – and boy do I mean push.  I was so ready to give up. This was a far cry from where I was a few months ago.  Yes, I did say a few months ago.  I stopped running back in March because I hurt my shoulder-blade and it hurt to run.  I have not run since, until today.

I’m not really sure how I forced myself to get through this walk/run today – except that I kept telling myself, “You can do this.  You’ve gotten this far.  You can keep going.”  And I still don’t think I’d have made it if my oldest daughter hadn’t been there giving me encouragement, telling me to stick with it.  She kept telling me, “Keep going Mom.  You can do it.”  And somehow – I did.

But I can’t help but think that I would have done better if I had just stuck with it to begin with.  If I had not allowed myself to keep making excuses, I might not have fallen so far behind in my progress.  I might actually have been able to run for 40 minutes straight, which is the end goal of this program.  Because I made excuses and did not keep training, I lost ground in my progress toward physical fitness and weight loss.

This brings me to the verse I started out with.  It made me think about how we’re called to put aside our obstacles and sins that pull us away from God.  So many times we are told to keep the faith and keep moving forward.  Yet, how many times do we tell ourselves, “It’s just too hard.  I can’t do it” or “I’ll do it tomorrow”?  In Hebrews 12:1-3 – we are challenged to run the race that has been set before us with endurance.  We are to keep moving forward, even when it seems too hard.

If I had given up tonight, I wouldn’t have had the feeling of victory when I finished.  Instead, I’d have felt defeated and a failure.  Because I kept going, I got to feel the elation that came with completing the workout. It’s the same way in our Christian walk.  If I give up…  If I tell myself I can’t do it…  If I say I don’t have time… I miss out.  I lose.  I don’t get the feeling of victory.  But if I keep with it and I work through the difficult times and learn and grow – I get the chance to rejoice, and ultimately, when I join Jesus in heaven – I will get to give Him all the glory for my victory.

In addition to enduring, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus.  Jesus is the prize.  He is the reward for keeping the faith – for moving forward with endurance.  If I keep my focus on what the reward is going to be at the end, I am more likely to keep running.  And if I keep my focus on what God has promised – I will keep moving forward and growing.

Yet, we are not called to do this alone.  The writer of Hebrews points out that we have a great “cloud of witnesses.”  We have the word of many who have gone before.  We have examples to follow.  In addition, we are told to grow together.  If I don’t have others to encourage me, I am more likely to give up.  For instance, tonight, if my daughter wasn’t there to tell me to keep going and that I could do it, I’d have given up.  I wouldn’t have kept going.  In our Christian walk, we need to find those who will encourage us to move forward and grow.  We need to find the people who will tell us to keep working toward the goal and that someday, if we keep moving forward and following God, we will see victory in our lives.

I am so glad that I stuck with my run tonight.  I feel so much better for having done it, and now I know I can do it again because I did it once.  I might feel the pain tomorrow, but it will be a pain that comes with a sense of accomplishment – and I couldn’t really ask for anything more.  Just like my feeling of accomplishment for finishing tonight’s workout, growing in Christ might bring some pain, but if I keep moving forward and I learn and grow in God’s word, I will get to feel that same sense of accomplishment, as I gain victory over my sin nature.  And how much more wonderful will that feel?  The words I long to hear someday are “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Until Next Time,

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