Most afternoons after work I lace up my running shoes and either begin pounding the pavement in the neighborhood where I live or I find my way to the treadmill at my local gym to allow the machine to pace me.
My first real race as an adult was a 5k in the fall of 2013. I thought, “It’s just three miles. That’s easy.” About a quarter of a mile into the race I thought I was going to quit, but I was running in honor of a family member with breast cancer and didn’t want to give up. An incredible 45 minutes later I crossed the finish line and thought I was going to pass out. I lettered in track in high school, but I never dreamed it would take me 15 minutes to run one mile.
Two years ago I signed up for the same charity 5k in Raleigh and began training. I trained for that 5k as though I had been selected for an Olympic team and couldn’t let my country down. I ran on the treadmill at fast rates and steep inclines. I ran every single day for three months. While I developed shin splints, I realized I was running faster and it was easier to run. The day of the race I ran the 3.1 miles with ease. Since that time I have run several 5ks, a 7k, a half-marathon, and full marathon.
One thing the Lord has taught me in training for all these races is the training matters because it is what builds endurance in order to run the real race.
This is what the author of Hebrews is expressing to the recipients of his letter when he writes, “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, 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” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The author spent the first 11 chapters of this letter outlining to his Hebrew audience why Jesus is better and why they need to cling to the faith they claim in Christ. In Hebrews 11 he outlines what faith is and gives examples of men and women of the past who obediently followed the Lord by faith. He then moves to chapter 12 of Hebrews when he encourages his readers to follow the example of those who have gone before them and run the race set before them with endurance, all the while fixing their eyes on Jesus.
Every one of us has a different race before us. However, we are all given the same admonishment to run our individual races with endurance and with our eyes fixed on Jesus Himself – our ultimate finish line.
How are you using the training God is providing in the day-to-day to build endurance? How are those things shaping and molding you into Christlikeness?
Are your eyes set firmly on Christ Jesus as your finish line?
In honor of the relaunch of Worthy of the Calling, we are giving away two gift baskets this week! The contest starts Monday, May 2 at 8 a.m. (EST) and ends Thursday, May 5 at 4 p.m. (EST). We will announce the winner Friday, May 6. You can enter to win in one way or all seven that are offered. Here are your options:
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