“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.”
Like a race the journey of life is very personal. It has to be confronted, endured and overcome by each individual themselves. No one can do it for us – we have to run and finish it in person. The hills along the way become very lonely and testing periods, when everything within us cries out ‘enough!’ Someone may call out words of encouragement and stir us onwards. Eventually the end is in sight, and the cheers and applause of the onlookers keep us going that little bit longer, until we cross the line and it is finished. We have succeeded, and we are ‘home.’
Every Christian has a journey marked out for them by God. Only he or she can travel that road and reach the end. For each one there will be alternating periods of companionship and loneliness, stress and encouragement, success and failure, as well as times when our journey is either the greatest joy and privilege in the world or one where we would happily crawl away and hide in shame or surrender. Unlike a race we are not competing against anyone – except perhaps ourselves!
In whatever state we happen to be at this moment Paul’s words of encouragement ring out to us.
We are not alone, both the Lord and the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ are calling and cheering us onwards, urging us to either keep going or to give it another try. The Spirit within us will urge us to get rid of the excess mental, emotional or physical baggage that weighs us down – and He will attempt to steer us away from the devil’s comfort zones that appear at our most vulnerable moments, tempting us to give up. Every single one of God’s saints who have gone before us is giving their support, willing us towards and over the finishing line, into the arms of our God and Saviour. He Himself is waiting to greet us with an embrace, and to call out in joy, “Well done, good and faithful servant! I am delighted with you and so proud! Father, look who’s arrived!”
“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.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Father, please help me to keep going towards You and with You, and never to give up. Give me the strength, guidance and encouragement that I need, and please help me to be a support and encouragement to others along the way – for Jesus sake, Amen.