Running is not for the faint of heart. It requires focused determination to endure the rigorous demands on your body.
Growing up, I loved to run. I would choose Cross Country as my sport each year to stay in shape in between athletic seasons. I remember getting up before the sun would rise to run. I would set goals for mileage and goals for timing to complete those miles of running. Daily training was key to building my endurance.
I entered my first 10k at the age of 17. I was nearly the youngest in the race but full of enthusiasm for the challenge ahead. What I was about to endure was the heat of southern Alabama while running on hot pavement with various degrees of incline and decline. Endurance was the key to run this race. Without that, I would not make it to the finish line.
Endurance is the power to withstand pain or hardship; the ability and strength to continue despite fatigue, stress, or adverse conditions; the capacity to bear up under difficult circumstances.
Jesus is the perfect example of endurance. He endured the cross so that we may have life abundant and eternal; so that He could set us free from sin and shame. He endured the cross so that we could bring our burdens to Him and receive strength to keep on going in our daily walk with Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
This passage gives us three primary ways to gain endurance in our lives:
1. Throw Off
Jesus likens our daily walk with him to a race in need of endurance. He is asking us to throw off our sins, our burdens, and all that hinders us from truly following him. He recognizes that when we throw off our sin and fix our eyes on Him, we see the goal of the race which is to reach Jesus. Many of you are stuck in sin cycles that keep hindering your ability to see Jesus as the healer of your heart. Some have very heavy burdens which you are trying to carry alone. Jesus is asking you to throw off all that entangles and refocus your heart on Him.
2. Stop Shame
Jesus’ death on the cross broke the power of sin and shame for all mankind. We do not have to carry around the darkness of shame in our lives any longer. Shame has the power to prevent any Christ follower from seeing how much Jesus loves them, thus keeping one from fully knowing who they are in Christ. Jesus set us free from shame so we can endure our race of daily following Him and walking in our new identity in Him.
3. Consider Him
The final way to run the race toward Jesus is to consider Jesus alone. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, who has endured so much suffering so that we can be set free from sin and death, we gain a new perspective. Where is your focus? Is it on your broken marriage? Does your focus stay on those who have hurt you? Do you have trouble with thinking clearly when you feel like others don’t validate you? Is your mind so wrapped up in your addiction that you aren’t able to see Jesus right now? Jesus is asking us to consider Him! This is where we will gain strength and endurance to not lose heart and to run with renewed perspective toward a hope of freedom and healing.
I won the 10k race for my age group. It came with sacrifice and training, but the reward was so worth enduring the days leading up to the race. I had to throw off all that got in the way of my training like sleeping in on weekends. I had to stop shame in my heart of not reaching my timing goals on unproductive days during practice. I had to consider the reward of reaching the finish line and not quitting mid-way no matter the heat of the day.
We are called to do the same in our daily walk with Jesus: Throw off all that entangles; Stop shame from taking root in our lives; Consider Jesus in all we experience.