“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
The writer to the Hebrews tells us we all have our own race to run (see Hebrews 11:1). We are the next leg in a relay race begun years ago by those who ran the race of faith before us. While our own journey will be unique, depending on the particular course laid out before us, one thing is certain; this is no sprint – no hundred yard dash. It doesn’t matter how fast you come out of the blocks if you never finish the race.
“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36). There is that word again. Endurance. The tape on this race is only broken when you cross that finish line at the end of this life. Much may happen on your way to the winners circle. You may get stalled, or even off track. You may run for some time in the wrong direction before recovering your steps back toward the finish line.
The important thing to realize is that you are on a course set for you by God. No one else is in the exact same lane as you. Their race will look different from yours and carry them in places your race may never go. While we may shout encouragements to one another, comparisons and competition are impossible, since no two courses are exactly the same.
Your course may rise or fall at different times than those with whom you are running in this life’s race. They may experience a time of ease when you are giving it all you have just to keep moving. Likewise, your heart may go out to those who struggle in their race when they encounter difficult and unfamiliar territory in their course, while you enjoy a smooth path. You may even see that the numbers thin as you grow closer to the finish line, as some choose to leave the race or become disqualified, trying to take shortcuts that are gratifying to the flesh but detrimental to finishing their course.
Sometimes you will rejoice with those who have stepped back into the race after long absence. The grace of God and the renewed joy with which they now run may cause them to make up time lost in their race and to even exceed their former mark. In the end, the wise runner will realize that regardless of where any of us may be in our journey, we are all together in the race, endeavoring to finish our course with joy and stand in the winners circle before the One for whom we run.
Don’t quit running. If you have, re-enter the race. There is still light to see by, and the day is not done. Run. Run the race of God has set before you. There is grace for starters and mercy for re-starters. There are hecklers in every race, but they do not determine who receives the prize. Above your line of vision is a grandstand full of those who have already finished their course, cheering you on to the finish line!