A marathon is a type of race that involves long distance running. Athletes participate with the intent to complete what may seem like to outsiders a monumental task. Each participant understands that it isn’t about winning the race or achieving a top position. The ultimate goal is to endure until the end.
As each runner goes forth, they battle through pain, fatigue, and the ever present thoughts of quitting before the race ends. However, the belief in each person’s heart and mind is that they are able to cross the finish line. There are even those who experience injury and complete exhaustion and yet they push forward until the very end. It is the accomplishment of completing a marathon that matters the most.
Spiritually speaking, we all face our own marathon experience throughout life. Both to the believer and unbeliever, life does not conceal or limit its challenges. However the great news is that with Christ anyone can have an opportunity to run their race with endurance and strength. The offer of guidance and faith is available, even to those who are among the godless.
In the book of Hebrews chapter 12, verses 1-2 says the following:
(NLV) “All these many people who have had faith in God are around us like a cloud. Let us put everything out of our lives that keeps us from doing what we should. Let us keep running in the race that God has planned for us. Let us keep looking to Jesus. Our faith comes from Him and He is the One Who makes it perfect. He did not give up when He had to suffer shame and die on a cross. He knew of the joy that would be His later. Now He is sitting at the right side of God.”
The author of the book of Hebrews remains unknown to this day, however, some believe that the Apostle Paul may have written this book. This book was written to Christians who were experiencing persecution at which the writing of this epistle took place between 65 to 85 A.D.
In verse 1 of this chapter, the writer makes reference to those who had faith in God who surround those in Christ as a cloud. Other translations say a “great cloud of witnesses.” If you read chapter 11 of Hebrews, you will see the individuals who were noted as those who had faith in God. Individuals such as Noah, Enoch, Abraham and Sarah were known to have been enshrined in what is known as the ‘Hall of Faith.’
However, the admonishment from the writer is to Christians to first, put aside everything that creates an impediment. Some translations use the word ‘sin’ in order to make the point of obedience and surrender unto God. This writer makes this point because if we who are in Christ are going to please God, we must first rid ourselves of the sin in our life.
This means, that we must seek God for forgiveness and allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Believe it or not, sin can be a hindrance to you because it creates a separation between you and God. We are unable to adequately accomplish great things for God as long as we have allowed sin to flourish and have a residence in our life.
In verse 1 the writer continues by saying that we must run in the race that God has planned for us. Other translations say to “run the race with patience.” In any case, all of us have a race or a path that God has carved out for us to run. Your path is different from my path, but God has designed a race specifically for you. The key is that we must run the race and do so with patience.
Sometimes, circumstances arise in life that has the potential to cause you to quit. However, the encouragement is not to quit but to run through the process. The writer also says in verse 2 that we are to look unto to Jesus. This means that when we are facing fiery trials, we must keep our eyes focused on Christ.
Regardless of how difficult a season may be, the key is to look to the Lord because He is your strength even when you have none left. Verse 2 continues when it says, “Our faith comes from Him and He is the One Who makes it perfect.” Faith comes when our lives are surrendered to God. Our job is to believe, but it is God who increases our faith if we believe that He is able to accomplish anything we are seeking Him for.
Our faith is also perfected and sharpened as we continue to live in obedience unto Christ. The final part of verse 2 makes note of Jesus Christ and the cross. The writer is essentially saying that Jesus did not give up when he faced shame and even death on the cross. Rather, Jesus understood that the victory would be won if He was obedient even unto death. As the scripture points out in the last portion, now Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God.
This essentially means that we who believe and follow Jesus, we too have an opportunity to receive the victory. Anyone can run in a marathon, but to finish and finish strong is what invokes a sense of victory and accomplishment. I have my own race in life that I am running, but I realize that it is through my faith in God and obedience unto Him, that I am able to accomplish all things through Christ as Philippians 4:13 says.
It may be tempting for you to give up, and perhaps you have contemplated it. Maybe you are experiencing a difficult situation in your life and you want to quit. The message is to you, and that message is to look to Jesus for your faith and strength. Jesus Christ is the Rock and He is the one who will give you the endurance to finish and finish strong.
Those who give up, forfeit their inheritance and their blessing. The writer encourages us as Christians to walk in righteousness and to turn to Jesus for our faith. If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord & Savior, then you are running the race without guidance. You too have a race to run, but God wants you to run with Him and on His path.
Accept Christ’s gift of life by acknowledging your sin and by believing that He died on the cross. By accepting Jesus into your life, you are able to run this race with God’s help. All of us must run this race and finish strong. You and I are able to do so only through Jesus Christ.