In Hebrews 12:1-2 we read,
“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, 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.”
In order to effectively navigate the race of life in the way God would have us run, we’re to focus on Jesus. How do we do that?
We get off to a good start. Martin Luther King Jr. described it as beginning in faith. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” The writer of Hebrews has been providing models of faith, our great cloud of witnesses. He refers to faith as, “…being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In our race for God we may focus on Jesus in faith. As we follow Him we trust in where the Lord is leading us. He knows the way, even though we do not see it all just yet.
We focus on Jesus through our efforts to be like Him. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant….” (Philippians 2:5-7) We take on tasks that some might say are “beneath us.” After washing the feet of the disciples Jesus said to them, “‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also was one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’” (John 13:14-15) Samuel Brengle was offered the position of being pastor in a large prestigious Methodist church. He turned it down in order to serve in the Salvation Army. One of the first things he was asked to do waspolish boots. He eventually rose to the office of commissioner. He was called, “The great Dr. Brengle.” Samuel wrote in his diary:
“If I appear great in their eyes, the Lord is most graciously helping me to see how absolutely nothing I am without Him, and helping me to keep little in my own eyes. He does use me. But I am so concerned that He uses me and that it is not of me the work is done. The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. He could do nothing without the woodsman. He made it, he sharpened it, and he used it. The moment he throws it aside; it becomes only old iron. O that I may never lose sight of this.”
We may focus on Jesus by clinging to His promises. Adversity comes with running races. Sometimes it comes as an injury. There may be challenging weather. There may be other runners who bump into us and make our journey harder than we thought it should be. So that people would not quit, Jesus spoke these words on the night of the Last Supper. “‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’” (John 16:33) Clinging to God provides peace. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) What a promise! As I pray and meditate on God’s Word I may express thanks in order to receive this amazing peace. I am thankful that Jesus is leading me. I am thankful for the gift of eternal life. I am thankful that I’ve come this far in the race. With God’s help I can keep going. I just need to focus on Jesus.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.