At the beginning of this New Year I have been reflecting on the very well known verses from Hebrews 12: ‘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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith ….’
I want to run the race marked out for me with perseverance this year and the only way I will be able to even begin to do this will be by fixing my eyes on Jesus. To intentionally seek his face on a daily, hourly basis. To talk to him – more importantly to listen to him, to read his word, to worship him and to spend time with other Christians who will encourage me.
What gave Jesus the strength to endure and persevere the way He did? I know for me sometimes it is hard to persevere in the Christian faith when I am not coming up against opposition but how do I fare when I am tempted, when I am accused of using my faith as a crutch or teased for my beliefs? We live in a country where we can worship freely, how would I cope if I was being persecuted for being a Christian?
Temptation didn’t stop Jesus from running, nor did accusations. ‘Hey liar! Why don’t you do something honest with your life?’ (see John 7:12) or ‘Since when do they let children of the devil enter the race?’ (see John 8:48). Though he never cheated, he was convicted as a cheat. Though he never lusted, he bore the shame of an adulterer. How did he endure such disgrace (our disgrace), what gave him the strength to endure the shame of the entire world? We need an answer don’t we? Like Jesus, we are tempted, ashamed, accused, but unlike Jesus, we give up. How can we keep running as Jesus did? By focusing where Jesus focused: on ‘the joy that God put before Him’. Jesus knew what awaited him. He focused on the prize and by doing that he was able to not only finish the race but to finish it strong.
Therefore, my goal for 2014 is to run the race as well as I can. No doubt I will get weary at times but I pray that I will have the stamina of a long distance runner. Sometime in the future, and none of us knows when, we will take our place at the table in an hour that knows no end and then our work will be finished. The final harvest will have been gathered, we will be seated and Christ will begin the meal with these words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servants’ (Matthew 25:23). At that moment, the race will have been worth it. Have a good week, with love