RUNNING THE RACE
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NRSV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Paul implores us to persevere as faithful people of God, but reassures us that we are not alone. He names a number of earlier witnesses such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses, who by faith, followed God’s will and persevered despite great trials. Surrounded by this “cloud of witnesses,” we are encouraged to do the same!
Today our Lenten discipline is perseverance; the perseverance needed for living as Christ followers and for living a life of faithful love. It is so difficult to keep our focus on Christ while living amid the distractions of this world, to be steadfast examples of love when facing harshness or criticism, to keep our spiritual disciplines in busy times… to make following Jesus our first priority when so many others clamor for our attention.
I found many tips online to help with perseverance. But I think Paul is on to something when he recognizes the many saints before us who were examples of faithful perseverance. When I ran my first 10K race years ago, I was inspired and uplifted by the people around me. Runners who led the way. Water cup holders standing along the route, keeping us hydrated. A high school band offering pep music to invigorate us all. People cheering us on from the sides of the road, especially as we neared the finish line.
We should keep this in mind as we persevere in our life of faithful obedience and love. We have a great cloud of witnesses who have set examples for us and are now surrounding us in spirit. We have the encouragement of faith communities and friends today who journey with us. Best of all, we can look to Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” for everything we need for this race. We too, can find the joy set before us, even when detours and trials come. We are in good company, all the way to the finish line.
Our reminder today will be a walking or running shoe (or the shoes you’re wearing). May it remind us to persevere in this daily faith journey, one step at a time, never giving up, knowing we are not alone.
Jesus, Perfecter of my faith,
Thank you for the journey you perfectly completed- living a life of faithful obedience and love- all the way to the cross. As I continue on my faith journey, help me to persevere as your disciple on this race that is set before me. Thank you for the great witnesses who went before me and who inspire and encourage me today. Thank you that I can look to you for guidance and strength for this journey. Thank you that I can follow you, learning and growing, all the way to the finish line. Amen.