In high school I ran cross country in my junior and senior years. There were not many students who would participate in this sport and few people would even attend a cross country meet. It was not the most popular sport to participate in, basketball was more popular. The high school had a student body of less than 150.
The school’s cross country course was a 2.5 miles, in a cow pasture. It was level for the most part, but it had a good size hill to run up twice. By the time you got to the top the muscles in your legs were burning. About three quarters of the way through course is when you had to start to endure the muscle pain and heavy breathing and mentally dig in, especially when you had to run up the hill the second time. I was the top runner in my junior and senior year in our school. In my senior year I found out that I was not prepared physically or mentally for the endurance to participate a cross country meet to go onto the state competition. I struggled to give up even when my coach was cheering me on, I did finish.
This sport and any other sport requires physical, mental stamina and eating the right foods for the endurance it takes to win in any competition. Training the body is the constant repetition doing the same thing over and over for the body (muscles) to be conditioned for the competition you are about to partake in.
As Christians we are also participating in a “Race of Faith” according to Hebrews Chapter 12 in the NKJV. Hebrews 12:1 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.
The first thing that stands out in this verse is that (we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses). Here is list of witnesses that are from the Old Testament: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph ands Moses. Their lives are a witness to us, having successfully overcome. There are more listed in Hebrews Chapter 11.
The Second thing that stands out in this is that: “let us lay aside every weight and sin which easily ensnares us”. 2 Corinthians 13:5 states Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. (NLT)
As we are running this race it is important to maintain our stride by keeping faith and our mind set on the prize and the end of the race. There will be circumstances of life that can come into play that will test our faith to finish and cause us to lose our stride. When this starts to happen you will have to mentally and verbally remind yourself of who you are in Christ. He is the author and finisher of our faith.
Here are few questions to ask yourself to maintain your stride in the race. After someone has wronged you, how quickly are you able to forgive that person who has wronged or discredited your character? When you start comparing yourself with others running this race can you focus on Jesus and declare and believe who He created you to be? How about when you missed the mark and sinned, how quickly are you able repent at the foot of the cross? Can you access the grace of God to strengthen you and give a way out when tempted? Just like training our physical bodies for a race, our spiritual faith muscles must be exercised. The training of our spiritual faith muscle is really vital to keep our stride in this race, when our faith is tested.
James 1:3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (NLT)
The third thing that stands out is: “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
Definition for Endurance: It is the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina. The Hebrew expression for endurance translates as ‘the strength to suffer, to carry a burden. In any race or any kind of sport in the natural it takes stamina and endurance to win the ultimate prize. This is no different when we are in a race of faith for eternal life.
When running this race of faith Hebrews 12:2 holds the vital key to our success in this race. It states as follows: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
WE HAVE VICTORY WHEN OUR EYES STAY FOCUSED ON HIM!!!!!
Prayer/Altar Team Leader