Ready, Set, Go!

By Rob Schmidt

(Hebrews 12:1-4)

If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you’re in a race. The race isn’t a sprint. It’s a long-distance race that requires endurance. Our goal is not only to reach the finish line (when we go to be with Christ), but to glorify God along the way.

As we run the race, obstacles arise that can weigh us down or entangle us, making it difficult to move forward. Some obstacles are associated with sin in our lives. Other obstacles are due to distractions. It’s possible to get so caught up in other activities that we don’t even have time to run the race. But God’s word says we can overcome these obstacles.

The believer is able to put those things aside and run the race with cheerful, hopeful endurance. Chapter 11 of Hebrews provides a list of others who have finished the race successfully — Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and many others. They were men and women who lived by faith in what God had told them and they looked ahead to God’s promises.

In our day, those who believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins are exhorted to look ahead to the upward call of God (Philippians 3:14). In Hebrews 12:2, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus. There are many things in the world that can distract us from running the race… hobbies, sports, television, travel, maintaining our homes, work, and even spending time with family. These things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but when they take priority over serving Christ in the church, then our life is out of balance… we’ve become distracted, entangled in such a way that we are no longer making progress in the race. Our eyes are no longer fixed on Jesus.

Imagine how ineffective Jesus’ earthly ministry would have been if He had allowed Himself to get caught up in everyday life. Jesus might have stayed home, rather than give the sermon on the mount, because He had worked too hard in the carpenter shop. He might have been traveling to see the great theater in Ephesus, instead of being available to raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus might have decided that healing Peter’s mother-in-law was enough for one day and turned away the dozens of others who sought to be healed by Him.

But Jesus didn’t allow Himself to get entangled in worldly affairs. He endured hostility by sinners against Himself. He despised the shame and endured the cross. He was able to do that because He looked ahead to the joy set before Him… the joy of saving lost sinners and being seated at the right hand of His Father in heaven (Heb 12:2-3).

Running this race is difficult, but it can be done. The writer to the Hebrews said that we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in our striving against sin (Heb 12:4). None of us have become martyrs by keeping from sin and testifying of Jesus’ death to save sinners.

As long as we have life on this earth, we are in the race. We need to run with endurance by keeping our eyes focused on Christ Jesus. When we do that, we won’t wear out or faint from exhaustion. We will be invigorated as we anxiously await our Savior’s return, knowing that we have faithfully served Him.