For the last few days, we have been looking at how to find and run the race that God has set before us. Let’s go back to Hebrews 12 (AMP) for a moment:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, 2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. 3 Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Many people start out strong in their year, and as the months fall away, they seem to falter and lose their steam or their way. Paul is giving is giving us a very clear direction on how to run our course: look at Jesus and how He ran His.
Firstly, we need to keep the eyes of our hearts on Christ. So many people find their vision with God –and it might even be the right one! But they decide that they need to run their course in their own wisdom and their own strength, and as a result, they falter or lose their sense of direction and end up somewhere else. In this race of life and faith, the goal is not achieving something specific. The goal is Jesus and running it with Him. As you enjoy friendship with Him - as all of your life centres on and flows from Him – certain things will happen. His dreams for you will start growing in your heart (Psalm 37:4). You will learn to recognise His voice and His leading (John 10:4 and 14). And then, because you know His love for you and because you know Him intimately, you will trust Him – and you will have the faith you need to step out and do the amazing and impossible things He has created you to do.
Secondly, we need to consider and meditate on the way He ran His race. Jesus had the most difficult race of all to run, and He ran it to clear the way for us so that we would be able to run the race of life with Him. The things He had to do and endure were worse and more insurmountable than anything you or I will ever face. How did He do it? How did He achieve the impossible? Paul says that it was for the joy that was set before Him that Jesus endured the cross and everything else that He had to battle through. The joy of fulfilling His calling and of being united with all of us gave Him the strength and power to disregard every difficulty and keep going until He had finished His course and sat down at the right hand of the Father.
As you start off this year like an athlete from the starting blocks, let the same joy of Christ be the strength that powers you (Nehemiah 8:10 and Psalm 28:7).
It’s not about what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you. It doesn’t matter if you had terrible things happen to you in 2016 because your perspective, attitude and faith in God can turn tragedies and devastation into testimonies of God’s greatness.
By Marna Holesgrove