Hebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right had of the throne of God.”

In this season of campus ministry – you can’t just sprint.  When people talk about ministry and life in general you’ll often hear comparisons of a sprint versus a marathon.  If we’re constantly sprinting – we’re going to give out – run out – tag out.

I have a couple of friends right now training for marathons and they have their run keepers set on twitter and facebook so that everyone is keeping track of their training.  This is amazing to me.  I have a hard enough time talking myself into any exercise, much less training for a marathon.  I admire their commitment – their dedication.

I relate to the part of these verses that says “let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely…”  Sometimes it does feel like there our weights holding us down.  What are we carrying with us?  What is holding us back with all its might?  Is it unresolved hurt or anger?  Is it a feeling of unworth or mistrust?  Is it a sense of betrayal not just of a loved one but even in thinking about God?  Is it fear?

There can be a lot that weighs us down especially in the middle of the night as we wrestle with those things that we don’t want to acknowledge in the day light.  When everything is stripped away – what holds us back from running the race set before us?

We are not called to live a sedentary life.  But exercise and training can sometimes get beastly, especially when you’re not prepared.  Nobody is saying that the race is easy.  Sometimes you need to spend the big bucks on the right running shoes or suffer the consequences.  And in the race of life – sometimes you need to put in the extra time digging into scripture and forming community with one another.

How are we equipped in this life?  How are we ready?  How do we get geared up like Rocky for the fight ahead?  We have to dig into the Word of God.  We have to earnestly seek the Lord by prayer and supplication.  We have to open our eyes and our heart to the leading of God and the many ways God answers us in miraculous ways every day.

We also don’t have to run the race alone.  No one has to sit in their dorm room alone or has to hide in their office during lunch time.  Sometimes it feels that way and again – it’s not always easy.  But we have to band together as community – as church – with each other or we have little shot of making this trek on our own.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  In our busy world that seems to burst with “stuff” to do and weights pulling at us from all sides, boy do we need to get countercultural sometimes and ban together and get to know each other.

In a society where one could argue we have more opportunities than ever to connect, there are still so many of us that feel like we have to do everything on our own – by our own strength, our own merit, our own smarts, our own everything.  To run this race with perseverance – we’ve got to drop our pride at the door and be willing to step out and reach out to the others running the race with us.  If we just sit with each other on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights or whenever – and we don’t actually get to know one another – how are we being church with one another? 

Sometimes even with encouragement and building each other up, it still gets to be too much.  A student the other day mentioned how he and his roomate had decided last semester they were going to exercise 5 days a week.  They would hold each other accountable and they would encourage each other.  He then said they lasted about a week and a half.  Hey – for some of us – that’s not bad, but a week and a half…sometimes on our own – even if there’s a whole group of us – it ain’t gonna happen if we’re just doing it on our collective strength.

Bottom line – just like the verse says – we’ve got to keep looking to Jesus.  Because none of us are going to run this race perfectly.  None of us are going to always have the nice, shiny, non-scuffed up running shoes and the perfect form.  Sometimes things get tough and we need to know who to look to.  Jesus – the One who sustains us, the One who knows us inside and out, the One who walks before us and beside us each step of the way.  Do the training – dig into scripture, find a community that can support and lift you up – but always look to Jesus – who continues to strengthen our faith through both lifes sprints and marathons.

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