Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Every competitive runner will tell you that their favorite courses are the ones they call “flat and fast”. Why? It’s easier, of course! Easier courses don’t have a lot of surprises, it’s easy to see the end.
What about the other courses? There are many that are slow because of their twists and turns, hills and challenges. Pain will be a steady partner the entire race! Why? Why make a difficult course? Why choose to run one? (Or run at all?)
Simple. The feeling of enduring through difficult circumstances is well worth the cost. There may not be a medal to show for it, but there is joy in finishing the race.
In the same sense, our mission for Christ is a race. It’s a long, ongoing path that God has already routed out for each one of us. A follower of Christ is not immune to troubles. Being a Christian does not give us the easy pass to run on the “flat and fast” course. On the contrary, it leads us to that other course – the one with trials and tribulation, hills and valleys.
Knowing that we’re facing such a difficult course ahead, what would possibly make us want to keep running? We find the answer in scripture. Jesus pioneered the way – He has already blazed the trail. Perfector, by definition, is the completer or finisher. Christ is the finisher of our faith.
We rejoice Advent season when we remember the joy we have because of the birth of Jesus. The starting line for the baby born in Bethlehem. His time on Earth would not be a fast and flat course. In that he showed how to run with grace, endurance and perseverance.
Now as we run the race laid before us we can lock eyes with Jesus as He waits for us at the end. He is the joy set before us! What a glorious finish that will be!
That’s a joyous celebration to have this season of Advent!
Lord, thank you for your word, our guide for life. Thank you that it honestly directs us. Even though you tell us that our path will not be easy, you share exactly how we can endure, and you share a glimpse of our prize. Thank you for finishing the race ahead of us. Now, help us to lock our eyes on you, and not look away, that we may share in the ultimate joy at the finish! Amen.