Run Your Race

 

What do we make of someone who has been given a dream or promise by God but experiences no evidence of that promise? When in the midst of trial or affliction with no end in sight, we can still have a testimony of God’s love and faithfulness although we may be mocked by the god of this world.

I wonder what Abraham was thinking when God told him at the age of 75 he would have the promised son and 25 years later Isaac was born. I wonder what Joseph thought 13 years after his dream while he sat in an Egyptian prison? Or Paul when he was stoned and left for dead at Lystra? How about the woman who had the issue of blood for 12 years or the paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda, who for 38 years waited for his chance to have a changed life. We meet many throughout the Bible who had earnest needs and were looking for deliverance and fulfilled promises to them, even in their lifetime.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

These individuals hoped in the miraculous with an expectation of the faithfulness and mercy of God, despite the long periods of silence. I am sure that at times they grew weary or exhausted, losing heart and fainting in their minds. Even in the despondency of the psalmist of Psalm 88 knows to petition and cry out to the Lord although the psalm itself does not reveal his deliverance.

“My eye wastes away because of affliction. LORD, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You. Will you work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise you?  Selah. Shall your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall your wonders be known in the dark? And your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But to You I have cried out, O LORD, and in the morning my prayer comes before You.” Psalm 88:9-13

Despite despondency in my own life, my spirit has been encouraged considering Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”.  This cloud of witnesses is a metaphor referring a great amphitheatre with tiers upon tiers of seats rising up like a cloud surrounding an arena full of runners that are in a race.[1] In heaven, these witnesses are in the bandstands cheering us on as in the spectators of an athletic competition. We as the contenders of life make every effort to overcome present discouragement while making strides to run the course set before us. The witnesses refer directly to those just spoken of in Hebrews 11 having gone before us testifying  from their own experience to God’s fulfilling His promises. Great men and women of faith like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Multitudes of believers throughout the ages have followed their example. Our relatives and loved ones are among them; moms, dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and untold number of friends and acquaintances who have finished their race trusting God and are now filling  the heavenly amphitheatre seats cheering us on.

Hebrews 12:1b continues to exhort us to lay aside every weight and sin that so easily ensnares (or clings to us) to slow us down in our race. What we need is endurance; to finish what we have begun in Jesus Christ – a race that is set before us. Our race is before us and we must run it!  In Acts 20:24, Paul pictures himself as a runner who had a race to finish and nothing would keep him from finishing his race with joy. In that passage, Paul speaks of my race – he had his race to run, we have our own – but God calls us to finish it with joy; and that only happens when we look unto Jesus. The NAS Bible version translates this: fixing our eyes on Jesus. We run this race of faith as we look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. He is our focus, our inspiration, our example and our prize.

Take encouragement, do not lose heart. Your race is not hidden from the Lord. Isaiah declares in Is 40:28-31:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

 


[1] Robertson, A.T. “Commentary on Hebrews 12:1

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