“…and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV)
I woke up to an absolutely beautiful day – sunny, but cooler, and perfect for running. It’s been a while since I ran so it didn’t take long for me to realize how out of shape I am. My legs were feeling the strain and I think I actually heard them telling me to have mercy on them and walk for a while. Trying not to get distracted or discouraged, I concentrated on my high-powered, Jesus running music and this scripture from Hebrews came to mind. As I forced myself to continue I imagined Jesus standing just ahead waiting for me. He didn’t have a stop-watch, just arms open wide and encouraging me to press on – to finish what I started, which for today, was a two-mile run, an easy and realistic goal in the broad scheme of things. I completed the two miles. Probably my worse time yet. But it wasn’t about the time. It was about perseverance. I could have easily stopped and walked the rest of the way home, but that’s not what Jesus wanted me do.
Perseverance has taken on a whole new meaning for me this year. When I refocused my run from a two-mile cardio to running to Jesus, not only did the running become easier, but I realized that while I’m working my way through the challenges I currently face, I often let destructive thoughts of self-pity and resentment creep their way into my mind and prevent me from seeing Jesus in my circumstances. We will always be faced with changes and challenges in our lives. Some are more difficult than others, but Jesus will always be right there waving us to the finish line.
Eugene Peterson says it best in his translation of this same scripture: “…Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message)
Grace and peace, my friends!