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. Hebrews 12:1
Maybe by now you’ve heard I ran up a hill. That’s right…all the way up a hill!
When I set my sights on Jesus, he makes me want to start running and never back down. He sets my mind on a course of victory for the glory of his name, and I want to give Him everything I’ve got. I may be in a heap when I cross the finish line, but I will know I have run with purpose; I will know that nothing else in this life could have brought me greater joy than simply running the race with Him.
But God has also taught me that I must be willing to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” or I will stumble and fall. I know this truth of Scripture, not just because I read it in the Bible, but because I have lived it. I have fallen on my face so many times that at certain points I wondered, “Will I ever get back up again? Will God really let me get back in this race?”
To me, pride is the nagging hinderance that wants to jump on my back and slow down my progress. I have always called it people-pleasing. I want others to like me, to approve of me, to think I am a worthy person. And let me tell you, it is hard to run a race for Jesus when you keep looking to the sidelines to make sure everyone is cheering for you!
I find that when I get the most confident in my own abilities, or when I have the most security that other people approve of me, that is when I am most likely to fall. For example, one day as I was teaching, I was pretty impressed with myself at the amazing lesson I had just presented. Then as I walked out of the classroom, I realized I had a very large, noticeable red jello stain on the front of my white shirt. I’m sure all of the students were impressed with that amazing sight.
My appearance has always been an issue of pride to me, perhaps because I had such bad perms as a teenager and I’m trying to make up for that. Nevertheless, God knows he can get my attention there.
One day I had to get my photo taken, so I got dressed up in my new jeans and fancy leather jacket. I was pretty confident that things would go well. And I thought they did. I even traipsed around the local grocery store in my outfit, proud of my new threads. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the labeling strip imprinted with the letter “L” for Large was still on my fancy, new pants. It couldn’t get worse, right? Well, later that day, when I was able to see the proofs of my photos, I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, they are horrible!” My husband came running in to reassure me they couldn’t be that bad, but all he could say was, “Oh my, you’re right.”
These experiences were somewhat painful, I must admit. However, I love that God has loved me through it all. I love that he has never given up on me when I turned my eyes to others and away from Him. He has picked me up time and again and said, “I forgive you. You are still worthy, my child, no matter what anyone else thinks.”
How amazing it has been for me to get to the point in my life where I can say thank you to God for the painful lessons I have learned. They have brought me back out on the race track with eyes only on Jesus. Each day it has gotten easier to look away from the crowds and away from all the sin that could “so easily entangle” me, and just keep my eyes on Him. He stands before me looking at me with the kindest eyes, beckoning to me, “Come, run this race.”
I want to shout out, “I will run my hardest for you, Jesus!” This is the echo of my heart. And the amazing thing is that none of it comes from me–it comes only from the Spirit He has given me. So I will run this race! But I know that it is Jesus that keeps my feet moving forward. I praise You, God!
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25