Hebrews 12: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, 2 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. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
We are very fortunate to get to go to our grandchildren's events. Some of them play flag football, some soccer, some are in horse shows, and others are in other special events. The point is, we are there to cheer them on. As a very competitive person, I sometimes push the bubble of how much you should cheer. But I am so much for them, and it comes out in very aggressive cheering. If I just sit on the sideline and never said anything when they were trying their best, it would mean nothing. But, I cheer and they hear, and they light up when they see I am watching their every move with great anticipation. I was the same way when people were cheering for me. I ran track in high school and I was running in an event at a track meet in Willow Springs, Missouri. Most of the time we had no one in the stands. For some reason, some of the girls from our cheer squad had traveled to the track meet and when I saw them, everything changed. I changed from a guy who would go through the motions to a guy who was "on point" to pour everything I could into the race I was running. Oh sure, those girls were cute, but more than that, they were taking time to cheer me on and I wanted to honor that with a great effort. I became an overachiever that day and ran the best race I had ever run in my events. The thing that took me over the top was when I heard them using my name when cheering me on. My name!!!
Just picture the hosts of heaven lining up around you and anticipating your every move and cheering you on BY NAME!! Talk about running the race!!! As the above scripture says,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Man, that gets me pumped up. The cheering section calling my name and Jesus at the end cheering me on. That is a race I have no problem running......except for one thing. That encumbrance thing! Encumbrance (def) - a burden or impediment. The scripture says to "lay aside" EVERY encumbrance AND the sin that entangles us. What is entangling you? Every day life tends to entangle me and instead of being heavenly thinking I get drawn into earthly thinking. Keep this in mind. Heaven and that great cloud of witnesses is looking at us and cheering us on and that should keep us in the right frame of mind for living the abundant life.
Oh yeah, run the race. Here is the way that we should look at running the race in a world that just runs....no racing. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:24 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. That cloud of witnesses is cheering us on to victory!!! We have become too complacent and willing to take defeat too easily. It is time to crank up that competitive spirit and run the race to win. Satan would like nothing better than for God's children to just get by. Don't give in to that lie, because that is straight from hell. Run, run, run the race to win!! And let's run it together. The fellowship of the believers is a sweet one that is filled with running the race together, supporting each other and spurring each other on to good works. Never forget that fact. The story below illustrates how we can help each other run this race.
James was excited as he turned the two hundred mark heading towards home. Two and three –quarter laps had gone and he was still in the lead. His one and only goal was to win this race and he was full of confidence that he could do it. His thoughts race ahead to the podium, the applause, the glory, and his body reveled in the great feeling which it produced. He had started the last lap with a great lead. He had no reason to worry. His legs had a rhythm to them and it was okay.
Behind him Antonio had different thoughts. He had realized that James was confident, too confident. He was sure he could pass him and he planned to make his move at the one hundred metre mark. He had reduced the distance between himself and James and he knew he had plenty of reserve left. He would win this race.
As they turned towards the home stretch James heard the crowd beginning to get excited. He was bathing in the glory but then he realized that they were cheering for someone else. He heard the footsteps and his body felt a tremor of fear. He heard the breathing and his brain sent an urgent message to his legs but his legs retorted “sorry can’t do it!” His nose picked up the faint smell of perspiration as Antonio took him out. His eyes released the tears which they were holding for a situation such as this. His mind reeled from the realization that the dream it had created would never be fulfilled.
Antonio passed the finish line and James followed but the crowd was still cheering and celebrating. There was pandemonium in the stands. It was only then that they realized that the applause and the cheer were not for them but for those who were behind.
Those, who had sacrificed the idea of winning, to help each other reach the finish line. During the race many had given up and walked off the track, but Peter though he had pulled a ham-string did not. He now came in limping, being supported by his rival Alfonso. Alfonso had decided to give up his chase for a worldly medal for a more eternal medal.
James and Antonio neglected to understand that it is not just to finish the race but it is also important to realize what race you are running. Some races are far more important than others. And the way to win the eternal race is to help someone get there.
The Pilgrimage Continues.....