Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1–3)
By faith the saints lived and thrived. By faith they built an ark, made their home in a foreign land, bore a child in old age, left Egypt, passed through the Red Sea, made the walls of Jericho to tumble. All of this build up from Hebrews 11 – the rhetorical device of the “example list,” which ancient writers employed to call their listeners to action – leads to a great “therefore.”
Therefore, says the writer to the Hebrews, let us run our race with perseverance as we fix our eyes on Jesus. He is the ultimate hero of our faith. He is the culmination of the amazing acts and supernatural feats. He endured the shame of the cross to draw us close to his Father, that we might enjoy a life of fruitfulness, joy, and peace.
What race are you running? Perhaps you are young, and you haven’t yet made life-shaping choices – such as travels, marriage, a professional qualification. Maybe you are in midlife, with your path deeply cut in the earth but with many miles yet to traverse. Or perhaps you are nearing the end of your journey, looking back over a life that had its share of potholes but also buried treasure in the road as well.
Wherever we are, may we slough off whatever is keeping us from running with joy and appropriate speed. In times of weariness may we look to Jesus to refresh us in body, mind, and spirit. In times of joy may we share our wonder and gratitude with him, the author and perfecter of our faith. And with the saints of old, may we too finish our race in a way to get the prize, the crown that lasts forever (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
For prayer and reflection: “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” (1 Peter 5:4)