Daily Devotional


Not an Olympic Race Track

by Simon Whitton

1 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.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

When I think of the race described in this famous passage in Hebrews, I think of a steeplechase.  I'm not talking about the horse race, but the original historic steeplechases of the early 1800s.  This was a cross-country foot race, that took place in the English countryside, from one village to the finishing point in a neighbouring village several miles away.  The route was what gave the race character and was a major part of the challenge.

Although the course was marked out, it was not nearly as clearly marked as you might like.  You may start out on a nice flat piece of road, but not for long, soon there would be a marshal to point you off the road into an adjoining field.

The land between villages was a patchwork quilt of small fields of various types, separated by hedges, fences and ditches.  Some fields were ploughed, the mud on your shoes getting heavier; others were downhill and grassy with fragrant wildflowers.

Opposing villagers will hurl abuse at you, or worse.  But sometimes a fellow competitor from your village may encourage you on, pointing out the best route.

The hedges often block your view ahead.  Do you try to get through the hedge or do you run up the hill to the corner of the field, where you think a gate is?  There are all sorts of obstacles to overcome, streams to be crossed, small dark woods to be circumvented, or plunged into.  Then there are the brambles and Farmer Brown's bull to avoid.

Often uncertain of your bearings, you scan the horizon ahead, trying to glimpse the church steeple.  Then you see it above the trees, the cross, at the top of the spire. You are heading in the right direction.

Be encouraged, the race we run is varied and difficult with many obstacles, but easier fields lie ahead.  The way forward is not always clear, but persevere.  Keep looking up and ahead for that cross; and know that even when you can't see it, the cross is still there.  You will catch sight of it again as you draw nearer and nearer.

Spend some time praying and thank God for the different seasons of life; and for Jesus who has run this race ahead of us.  Ask Him for the perseverance to get you through the field you are in.  Pray that God may use you to encourage someone who is struggling.


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