The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, which features many Old Testament saints, concludes with a challenge to New Testament Christians: “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 nasb 1995). Our challenge is to run the race of faith just as victoriously as those heroes who came before us.
The race we run is not a sprint. It is more like a marathon. It’s not just a race we run today and then are done, but a race that must become a lifestyle. And as we run it, we are not alone. We are being watched and cheered on by a “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).
The race we run is not a sprint. It is more like a marathon.
Everybody loves to hear testimonies, the stories of people who went before you and can tell you what the future looks like because they’re already there. We love hearing the stories of men and women who go through all the ups and downs of life and persevere until they cross the finish line as a winner. These testimonies make us want to finish our race as winners, just as they did.
Don’t worry that you are not perfect. Don’t worry that you’ve occasionally tripped and fallen along the way. The question is: did you get back up and finish the race?
On the endurance race we’re running we have to make some decisions. We’ve got to get rid of those things that are holding us back from living the life of faith. Whether it’s an impediment to our progress, a sin, a refusal to trust God, or constant disobedience that is keeping us from confidently holding on to faith, we’ve got to push these aside and continue our race. If we allow these things to hold us back, we can’t live by faith. If we’re not living by faith, we won’t be approved; and if we’re not approved, we won’t get the reward.
A famous saying in football asks: “How bad do you want it?”
Do you really want to hear “Well done”?
Do you really want to hear “Well done”? Do you really want His presence in this life and His bonuses in the life to come? If so, you need to get up and start running, start moving forward as you are cheered on by that cloud of witnesses. You have to decide that, from this day forward, you are going to walk by faith—no, you are going to start running by faith.
When you are in the middle of a race and start to fall behind, you can’t just go back to the starting blocks. Then you’d just get farther behind. Instead, you have to pick up the pace so you can make up for lost time in the earlier part of the run. So, even if you’ve fallen behind—you’ve lost time, wasted time, taken a detour from the righteous path—get back in the race. Start kicking it, and say, “God, each day, moving forward, I’m going to run with faith. When my feet hit the floor, as they run on the track, I’m going to be running with You in mind, Your Word in my heart, and obedience in my decision-making.”
And remember what Hebrews tells us: if we are going to make it across the finish line in a life of faith, we’ve got to be keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He’s the beginner and the completer, the A and the Z, the Alpha and Omega. And He’s everything in-between.
When you don’t have the strength, Jesus will carry you.
When you don’t have the strength, Jesus will carry you. He will pick you up when you become weak. He will strengthen you when you are tempted to quit. He will boost you up when you start to lose heart. Sometimes you might think that you cannot run any farther. But here’s the good news: if you keep your focus on Jesus, even when you start to tire, He’ll give you a second wind. When you feel too weak to go on, He’ll put His arm around your shoulder and, if need be, carry you across the line.
If you keep your focus on Jesus, you’ll cross the finish line with a whole lot of folks applauding your victory. Then you’ll join that cloud of witnesses. You’ll have become a kingdom hero.