Hebrews 12: 1-3
For those that don’t know me very well, I am a runner, like my father before me. At one point in my younger days, I was actually pretty good at it. But in my 20’s I got away from running, and didn’t pick it back up until my mid 30’s shortly before my son was born. Since then, I have accomplished distances I never thought possible, completing my first ever half marathon two years ago. Running has become something that allows me to burn off the stress of the day, to get out and be alone, if only for a short amount of time, and get lost in listening to music along the way. Call me crazy, but I enjoy this stuff.
Recently, I was looking for a new book to start reading, and I stumbled upon something that I have heard of before, but never really looked into it called “Run for God.” According to their website, their mission is “Preparing people to be better witnesses for Christ…physically, mentally, and spiritually.” The founder of the website talks about how he became so involved in running and training for races, that it became an idol for him, but then he began a ministry for runners, and changed his perspective from running for himself, to running for God. The mentally part of the mission statement goes along with part of this Hebrews passage. The mentally refers to “Learn the disciplines and endurance it takes to “Run the race set before us” (Heb. 12:1).
I have been reading the devotional book published by the Run for God ministry for just over a week now, but after having read the first devotion, it completely changed my perspective on my runs. It is written by a woman named Melissa Weimer, who was running a marathon on the same day of the death of her mother, and during the race, was trying to block out all distractions except for running. But partway through the race, she realized that other runners around her were ENJOYING themselves, while she was “in the zone” and focusing on finishing the race. From then on, she changed her focus from what her time would be when she crossed the finish line to enjoying the race and noticing things like nature, photo booths, cheering on-lookers, and other things you find along a race route. I, too, have stopped worrying about my time on my regular runs, and about the little voice in my head that often creeps in telling me that I am never going to finish a run. As a result, my last few runs have been much more enjoyable, and my times haven’t fallen off all that much. Go figure.
In the Hebrews passage, the writer says we first must “throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles.” Only then can we “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” If we are to do this, then we must fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” So, no different than the 10K I will run this weekend, life too is a race. If we focus too much on the things of this world, on how we will finish in life, we will get bogged down and miss out on the joys of life. Let us set aside those things that hinder us and let go of sin, and fix our eyes on Jesus. There is much more joy in that life.