The gym. It strikes fear into any person. The thoughts of running and weights and machines and sweat and pain and suffering! It’s an awful experience really, yet I pay for it!
It is a real struggle to go to the gym, so recently I decided to mix things up and start attending a boot camp class, which is all the horrible things mentioned above within the space of one hour. I remember the first class I went to. I walked in, thinking I’m the big cheese and that I was fit and was well able to do whatever was thrown at me, I was also convinced..really I was! I was sadly mistaken. The first exercise involved sprinting and using a kettlebell- not a fun experience. I put absolutely everything into that first exercise, it never came into my thought process that I would have to do harder exercises after this. I beat everyone and I was well chuffed with myself, it was the only time I beat everyone else, I spent the rest of the class at the back, taking in deep breaths at every available opportunity.
Reflecting on that class and how well I performed, or lack of- I realised I couldn’t maintain the pace I was going at, I needed to slow down, I needed to spread out my energy levels and not push myself to the limit with every exercise. I think the Christian life can be a bit like this too. The author of Hebrews has something to say about this.
He tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us”. Heb. 12:1
The author is being quite clever here, he is speaking to a group of people who are on the verge of giving up. They are tired of having to keep fighting for their faith in the face of such great opposition- that being predominantly- the Roman Empire. What did the Romans do for fun? They had games in a competition style event, which is still played to this day. You might know of them. Tis the Olympic games. This would bring crowds of people to the arena to see these athletes compete at the highest level.
The author is using the Roman Empire as an example of how to persevere! He is subverting the influence they have over the believers here. That alone is fascinating to read. But I am side-tracking- back to the race.
The author is asking us a very real question here. Are you running this race well? Are you running it in such a fashion that you will be able to last the course of a lifetime?
It is a tough question, I’ll be the first to admit. The reality is, the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint.
The author offers us further encouragement regarding this race we are running in- he says that we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” Heb.12:1. What does this mean? It is people- who were mentioned in Hebrews 11. You should have a read to see who is cheering you on from the side lines. To put this race or marathon into perspective, it’s like having Mo Farah cheering you on from the side lines.
The author keeps rolling out the encouragement here- in verse 2 he tells us to look to Jesus.
That is it! Jesus, look to Him, the founder, the perfecter, the first, the last, the alpha, the omega, the beginning and end- He is the finish line.
Look to Jesus in times of storms and discouragement. Look to him in times of peace and encouragement! Look to Jesus always, and run the race that is set before you- with endurance.