Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost
August 19, 2007
Running God’s Race
The “Bay to Breakers” footrace is an annual event in San Francisco. But many who compete are anything but serious runners. Some runners carry kitchen sinks or push beds as they “sprint” down the street. Other entrants have been known to dress as cucumbers or bananas.
God has a race, too. It’s called the Christian life. Bananas need not apply. God’s race is for serious runners. It’s only for those who aim to finish.
So what about you? Are you in God’s race? Are you serious about crossing the finish line on the other side of life? How’s the race going for you? Are you finding the course steep? Has the wind turned against you? Do your sides ache and your legs feel like iron? Do you feel like giving up? You need a second wind. You need Hebrews 11:29-12:2. Here we find the encouragement we need to catch our breath and renew our zeal. Here we learn what it means to run God’s race to win.
As you run God’s race, consider the witness of those who ran before.
Hebrews 12:1 exhorts us to remember that as we run God’s race, “we are surrounded by…a great cloud of witnesses.” What image does that create in your mind? Do you picture a heavenly stadium filled with cheering saints who have gone before us?
Actually, the witness being spoken of is not one of them looking at us. It’s us looking at them! The witness spoken of here is the testimony of their lives. Members of the “Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame” bear witness to us that-in spite of our background, our failures, or the obstacles that stand in our way-we can finish the race.
Rahab was a prostitute; but Rahab put her faith in God, and she finished the race. Some were persecuted, but they finished the race. Some were laughed at and rejected by men, but they finished the race. Some were even tortured and murdered, but they finished the race. They all bear witness to God’s faithfulness. They all bear witness to the reality that, in Christ’s strength, we can finish our race just like they finished theirs.
As you run God’s race, throw off your excess baggage.
When running God’s race, we are instructed to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” What hinders you in the running of God’s race? What trips you up in your relationship with Him? We have choices to make. We can’t have everything we want. We can’t do everything that seems good to us. If we’re serious about crossing the finish line we must set certain things aside.
Obviously, we must set sin aside. But what about those “good” things that hinder us. Are we willing to set aside the “good” so we can have God’s best? The things that hinder me in my race may be different from the things that hinder you. We each need to be sensitive to God’s direction. We each need to be willing to “throw off” any excess baggage that interferes with obeying Christ.
As you run God’s race, stay in your own lane.
For each of us, running God’s race is personal. We can only run the race God has individually marked out for us. I can’t run your race, and you can’t run mine. The race marked out for some includes a legacy of abusive parents. For others it involves a physical or mental handicap. Some believers run their race in the context of material prosperity. Others run a course marked by poverty.
We all run God’s race. But none of us run in the same lane. So what happens when the running gets tough? What happens when your lane runs uphill while all the other runners seem to be trotting on a downhill course? Are you tempted to change lanes? Do you long to run someone else’s race?
Remember, God knows just what we need. My race is custom designed by God to prepare me for eternity, and your race is custom designed to prepare you. Thank God that He loves you enough to mark out a race just for you. Do you trust Him enough to stay in your lane and run without complaint?
As you run God’s race, run with perseverance.
The Christian life is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Reaching the finish line requires perseverance. Hard times come, and we get weary. Never give up. Instead, remember that the race we run, we run with God. He is our power. He is our strength. By His grace, we can persevere. By His mercy, we will cross the finish line.
As you run God’s race, run with focus.
Hebrews 12:2 reminds us that as we run God’s race we must “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…” Finishing God’s race requires right focus. Every day we must fix our eyes on Jesus because He is both the giver of our faith and the ultimate role model for our faith. If we fix our eyes on Him, we’ll never stray from the course. He’s waiting for us at the finish line. And when our race is done, we’ll hear Him say, “Well run, good and faithful servant.” (Dean Shriver)